I don’t feel you need to be a football lover to understand this, but, if the sight of 11 boys kicking a pig-skin makes you feel nauseous, then feel free to either look away now or find the nearest bucket.
I love a game of football now and again. Perhaps a contender for the 2010 ‘Understatement of the Year’ competition.
So, on the way to work the other day, Antoine needed to pass by the local photocopier shop near the University to copy out some notes for his impending exams. As he spent five minutes in the ‘copy-shop’, I went to stand under the shade of a tree to watch a game of football between approximately 20 or so locals. Bricks for goalposts, a dusty surface and a notable lack of footwear on show. I stood there in my shades in the background, doing my best impression of a sleazy scout from some second-rate European club, ready to prize away any African talent. Ever the ‘know-it-all’ when it comes to football, I thought there was clearly some skill out there but, even in the mid-morning heat, it did seem like some energy and running was lacking – along with sweat – which I would provide in bucket loads (“No skill and little quality – but Chris likes to run a lot” – even in Burkina Faso, the sound of former teammates nodding in agreement is deafening). The truth be told, I wanted to be out there to prove to Africa that England’s dismal display in the World Cup was, of course, down to my absence. Then - my chance. The ball trickles into my path from a wild shot by a young striker, who misses the breeze blocks by some distance. A casual jog over to the ball, I realise the nearest player is about 30-yards away. 20 pairs of eyes glaring and in shock at the sight of a ‘le blanc’ coming out from the undergrowth to meet the ball.
I absolutely nailed it. Spot on. To the guys feet. An arrogant swagger to finish off the pass. Antoine comes out with his copies. “Allez Chris”. “Ok Antoine, my work here is done”.