Perhaps more widely used than English or Spanish, football is the true international language. A game that crosses divides created by location and generation. And it is surely a past-time that extends into the bush. This year the Beho Beho team is sporting a new kit, and this week we finally got a chance to get them dirty during a friendly scrimmage of the Wazee (elders) in new kit against the Vijana (youth) in red.
5pm – kickoff time here, as the sun is finally low enough to make the temperature comfortable for a match. Mr Simba – who most of you know as our longstanding barman – comes to the pitch, ball in hand, whistle to mouth.
And so it begins, the youngsters have a promising team with the fancy footwork of Karim and racing strides of Zachariah, both from the kitchen team, and Suddy, a newcomer to our front of house team. But their attempts are always hindered by the Wazee goalkeeper, Mr Godfrey, our head chef, who displays skills extending beyond the culinary.
The Wazees have a few tricks up their sleeves as well; with skilled dribbling from Rajabu of housekeeping and Jerry at the front of house and strong defence from Rahim and Nguzo in housekeeping. 30 minutes in, it’s not the Youngsters, but the Wazee in the lead after an impressive goal from kitchen crew Martin.
It’s halftime. Mr Fulgence assumes the role of coach for the Wazee congratulating the guys on the first half and encouraging them to continue their attack on the Vijana with great enthusiam. Mr Simba blows the whistle and the teams come back for the second half.
Although the chaps in red make several eager trys on goal, there’s no joy for them with Nguzo and Rahim defending, and Mr Godfrey moving with an agility I didn’t expect, to make some key saves, keeping the Wazee in the lead. As the 90 minute mark approaches, Saning’o scored, making the Wazee’s victory definite. The whistle blows one last time. Almost immediately and without the need for much deliberation, Mr Godfrey is named Man of the Match.
As the sun sets, I’m thankful to have shared an evening enjoying a ‘friendly’, watching our Beho Beho team improve and become a stronger family. Working in Selous has innumerable benefits, but one of the greatest gifts I have is my endearing extended family, and an evening like this is a heartwarming reminder. The green jerseys have enjoyed their first victory. And we hope, that when there is time, this experience can be repeated.