Friday, March 7, 2014

To All My Ladies - This is a World Cup Year (Waiting for June 12)

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By BabaWilly

I might as well put it in writing my darling, I might as well put pen to paper my love. My reasons are simple, you can read. And to that great insight, I add that just like the elephant, you never forget. In addition to that similarity I would venture to say that your footprints have left an indelible mark. I know that there are cynics out there who will say ‘she walks all over him’ on reading this, but just look at me. Since you walked into my life, things have never been the same.  My life has improved a hundred fold.

Now it is written, this becomes an everlasting testament to the intrinsic forces that drive me and thereby induce gratification seeking behaviours of the sporting kind.

Every arrow has a target and so does this letter. Chinua Achebe told it well when he said that the tortoise invited to the party in the sky claimed the food served him and his fellow guests was for ‘All of us’. Like the great man, I too say this freshly made hot epistle is served from me to ‘all of you’. To my Achebe quote, I add a bit of Iyanya to embellish my thoughts and words. Yes, this written affidavit is for ‘All my ladies’. My wife, daughters, my mother, nieces and all female in laws; alas! a great company of beautiful women. I would not even mind if my male friends borrow a leaf from this epistle for their personal use. Sharing after all is caring.

Now to the matter at hand (no puns intended), I have come to realise that repeating myself is not in keeping with my nature as I am not one of those athletics commentators who take delight in telling the world over and over again that a track and field record which stood for 200 years has just been broken. Just like the wedding vows, I like to keep it brief. ‘I do’ and that’s all.

That is how I roll. All those who need to hear things thirty times before they comprehend meaning and truth can ask for copies of the wedding video. So in truth, what I write is reference material for all my ladies, internationally.

You see my beloved, we are in a world cup year. A year so special that I have tactically changed the TV set and turned the furniture around to accommodate it. I have booked 4 weeks annual leave and I need everyone to be in no doubt as to what will be happening during that tournament. June 12 means something to my Nigerians, so I know you will remember this date. (Any Nigerian who forgets  the  Maradona United Versus Abiola Babes final for the Aso Rock Cup deserves to loose their citizenship) Tell everyone, on land, water and in the sky that Anita Ward (Ring my bell; is not on my play list come June 12 when Brazil takes on Croatia.

I shall not be available for any activities whatsoever 1 hour before and after every game. (I might be partial to a bit of post  match romantic cheering up if the results are not to my liking, so I implore you in advance to consider putting your good offices to therapeutic use when the time comes). I will not be taking any phone calls or attending to any emergencies, both medical and otherwise.

Anybody with plans of celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, or promotions should do it around my time table if they view my presence there as important. As for bereavements, there is a rumour doing the rounds that the grim reaper has promised the pope a three week death amnesty to avoid funerals during the games in Brazil. (Please don’t quote me).

For the said period, I would eat meals that do not require me looking to see what goes where. No complicated meals like pounded yam and ogbono soup or 5 course dinners. No my love. It will have to be single independent entities like Pizza, roasted corn or pieces of chicken. I say this for my eyes would be in Brazil through the wonderful miracle of Satellite television while my body will still remain in my chair.

I may not shower during this period but do not be dismayed. I toyed with the idea of a portable loo in the living room just in case, but I suppose, that can wait till half time. I would be all yours after the cup has been given to the victors in the final game. However I must add a caveat to that. Should Nigeria win the coveted cup, I would be moving back to the land of my forefathers to celebrate for 3 straight months.

I already know what you are thinking. What is it with twenty two men chasing a ball all over the park? I will set the record straight on this solemn day. That way all may know and fully understand the importance football.

First and foremost, it is not just chasing after the ball. It is more than that. However, the chase is important as well. Where would man be without chasing? We run for office don’t we? We chase contracts. But beyond the chase, football my dear is a metaphor for life. A dramatization of its ups and downs, played out in 90 minutes with an interval for those with weak bladders called the half time. This drama joins all men together in brotherhood. We see ourselves on the field of play. The one who has received queries at work for the umpteenth time really understands the yellow card flashed at a player and shortly after he rejoices in the red card shown. At least he has not been sacked from his job yet and in seeing a miserable player walking sadly to the bench, solace is generated in the heart. Seeing others suffer want we fear might happen to us is redemptive.

 The corrupt politician is afforded a rare privilege to scream at the injustice of a referee awarding a penalty to a player who dived. The armed robber is torn asunder with indignation when a player guides the ball into the net with his hands and thereby displaying what is that lowest of all human despicable character traits; the suppression of a conscience for personal gain. In a way these criminals see their lives flash before their hypocritical eyes on the field of play and who knows what redemption might be born in their hearts of granite?

My darling, men love a fight. A contest. A war. Life is what it is. The fiercely contested battle is the stuff of legends. In the arena of battle humans beings twist and turn, display  lightening speed, acrobatic alacrity, aplomb on the pass and poise in the ball control. Things lacking in men’s lives are experienced by belonging to a team full of talent. We are able to enjoy the euphoria of scoring improbably goals by belonging to the team. We dress like the team, clap for the team and wave at the team. Well we belong but don’t get tackled by the opposition, at least not physically. The opposing fans sing songs aimed at our weaknesses. In the stadium we are kids in the play ground once again without a mortgage to think of.  We sit in the stands excited and kicking the ball in reflex action like we are on the field. I once had a patient who strained his neck as he headed a phantom ball as he watched the corner kick being taken. He was one with the striker.

Yes my love, he was so willing to see that ball cross the white line he jerked his neck like he was in a seizure. We are one with the team, and it is a beautiful thing when the whole world is one with a team.  Why do I feel you are not convinced?  Maybe I should get personal. You see my dear; I was born with two balls. (Just like Charles Miller who returned to Brazil in 1894 and introduced a country to the beautiful game) They move in tandem and help me see the light. My sight is owed to two eyeballs. When ever I see a football in the centre circle just before kick off, I think of an all seeing eye with a pupil in its middle. An eye similar in morphological appearances to my first source of sustenance, for I was indeed breast fed as a child. Who can escape his or her childhood? Who can break free from the shackles or blessings of early family life? My fate was sealed before I cut my first tooth.

I will forever love to gaze at that sphere full of wind that men love to play with.   The whistle goes and they kick the ball. Life starts afresh at that moment. Do we not say of things regenerated that they have been kick started? At a kick, all fear, all pain and sadness evaporates and gets carried in the wind right out of the stadium. The round ball in flight reminds me of the planet we live on going round the sun. Imagine this ball of sand and stones going 60 thousand miles an hour round the sun and rotating at a thousand miles per hour at the same time. And you thought you were the only one who could multi-task on the planet. I have seen balls twist and turn in wondrous ways as they sojourn from the free kick spot to the back of the net. God bless the guy who invested slow motion.  There is nothing more beautiful than a ball in flight.

No I lie, for even more beautiful is when that ball’s flight is stopped, suddenly halted by the quivering goal post net and the madness starts. The crazy rejoicing at a goal achieved. Just like the birth of a child or the liberation of an oppressed people, the joy is pure poetry. The fan as he raises his hands in victory is speaking to his dreams unconsciously. ‘I will overcome and celebrate my personal goals being achieved one day’ he says by his actions. All cultures celebrate a goal with the same smiles, squinted eyes and raised hands for all men and women are wired to celebrate achieved goals.

So let us get back to my life. Dad was a referee and later a football fan. He watched IICC Shooting Stars and Enugu Rangers and appeared happiest after a match was won. So the link between sporting success and domestic bliss was sheared into my formative mind. I went on to attend St Finbarrs college, Akoka and some of the senior students notably Stephen Keshi and Henry Nwosu went on to play for the National side.

I watched them train daily for the Principal’s cup during the football season and that leaves a mark. I did ok academically at school but there were things I picked up that have stayed with me to date and were not written on my O level certificate. The music and dance during debating society invitational events, the record quizzes, the pride felt winning the Principal’s cup, Father Slattery’s high moral standards, and going past the students of University of Lagos daily and vowing to be one of them one day.

Most importantly, I picked up a fascination with our ‘sister school’ Our Ladies of Apostles. It was almost an official requirement to fancy a girl in that school and I fancied Isabel. The biggest crush a teenager could have. She was my apostle and I was her convert. How can I forget that literary and debating society event at their school in which Isabel took part in the fashion parade? (Na today? A certain Will in this UK marry wife wey him see for fashion parade) She cat walked to the tune We’ve got the funk by Positive Force;

Let us just say I have never recovered. She was the picture of Africa beauty and my cerebral hemispheres just took flight and left my head for  romantic asylum on planet Venus. Did I ask her out? Did I tell her how my teenage heart ached and yearned? No, i did not. I was much too shy and feared her rejection. We all had such a morbid fear of rejection that we called the process ‘nailing’. No one willingly puts his body at risk of being nailed through by a girl whose hammer was her beauty. What has all this got to do with football?? I will tell you my darling.

When that doddering striker is in the six yard box refuses to shoot or pass the ball while the whole stadium sensing the opportunity bays for a shot. When he hesitates till the opposing defender dispossesses him of his chance and clears the ball, when we all crouch down holding our heads at the lost opportunity, it is not just the goal that slipped away we mourn. We lament the Isabels in our lives. We regret the examinations failed for lack of effort. The business opportunities missed for lack of foresight and courage; diamonds that slipped away. Suddenly  we straighten up our backs and linger no more on the lost oppurtunity for the game must go on. The referee blows for a goal kick and hope is rekindled.

There are things in life we lose due to our indecision and lack of courage. That has to be dramatized on the field of play, so we learn and failing that, we take solace in the fact that we are not the only ones with missed opportunities. There is always another chance. The tide always changes, so we wait. No matter the score at half time we never go home. We wait. We learn hope. We sing songs of victory when we are 3 goals down. That is faith, believing that results will improve and our aspirations will be realised. Now you know why so many unfit men are never inspired to get fit watching soccer players all day. We never see them; we just see our peculiar circumstances on the field of play. (Unlike all my ladies who feel fat whenever they watch models on TV).

The funny thing is most attacks do not lead to a goal. The striker just spits, shrug his shoulders, scratches his groin and moves on. Taking about groins, last week a player took a ferocious shot in the groin and collapsed. Everybody in the stadium dropped their hands to their groins to protect their testis. That is being one with the game. We all feel the pain.

Imagine if space women came over from Venus to some famine ravished worn torn corner of the globe and they asked to be shown what earthlings consider as sports. Which arena would they be pointed to? The Hunger games? The war games? No no no. It will be to the beautiful game. Did we not sing He has got the world in his hands in Sunday school? That is what I remember when a goal keeper cradles the ball. Our collective hearts reach out and as if to say, ‘please don’t drop it’. ‘God will never let the earth drop down so please don’t drop our hopes and dreams’.

I think I have made all the points I need to make. I am sure you want me to be a guy who never gives up till the very end. Do you not desire a perfect gentleman with restraint in all things and who is in control of his all his faculties? You would love a guy that can be controlled by a whistle or a whisper. One who does not chicken out of taking big decisions just because he is afraid of hearing you say ‘I told you so’ if the decision turns out badly. Well, that is why I must watch soccer for the full 90 minutes and extra time if need be. That is why I must endure the emotional and psychological high stakes of a penalty shoot- out that can send one country into ecstasy and another into despair with just one miss. I need to learn how to take my own penalty kicks in life. I know what you are thinking you also need a guy with a six pack and that perhaps I should pick tips from the games I watch.

Frankly my dear if you need a six pack, go to the gym and get one yourself. Life is so mysterious and full of unanswered questions. India has 1.2 Billion people and China has 1.3 Billion citizens yet they cannot produce eleven guys to win the World Cup. I will be contemplating that till June, so if you see me thinking, don’t ask me to tell you what is on my mind because I am telling you now.

It is a world cup year and these are my final words. Please train the bin on how to take itself out on Tuesday nights ready for collection or just take it out yourself. Do not disturb me during the world cup.

I want peace but should you ignore this letter, then I will move into a hotel with the guys for the world cup games and you will be paying the mortgage for June and July 2014. (Perhaps you might need to pay for August and September if Nigeria wins).

I love all my ladies and I promise to put my ladies first in everything I do after I hear that final whistle on the 13th of July at the Estadio do Maracana, Rio de Janeiro.  You will always be beautiful to me but please know that there is room in my heart for two beautiful things. There is space for you and there is space for the game.

 If Nigeria wins eh!!!!!


  1. Truly hilarious! And we're just in March. I could read this just fine in my inbox, but here it seems some words have been chopped off the edge. Or is the problem with my computer?

  2. LOL!! I wish men would be just as passionate about other things... and just in case they claim that they are, I wish they would SHOW IT.

  3. I'm a woman, and I feel the same way about the World Cup. Let the men in my life take note :)


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