No better time than the end of the workweek to take to the terrain to stretch your legs in a game of soccer. That’s our Friday tradition. Guys from our organization and guys from the neighborhood get together for a weekly battle of the wannabe titans. The roughness of the pitch is only surpassed by the roughness of play that takes place on it. “Play the ball not the man” hasn’t translated well into the local language. Any newcomer to the game observing might be led to think that random handballs are just part of the deal. Despite the undesirables we do manage to have fun and keep it relatively friendly.
While in the UK last year I had the privilege of jumping in to the weekly matches of a group of guys from church. We played right through the winter months and even when it rained or felt like it was cold enough to snow. While the pitch was far and away more friendly, the play often resembled that of the wannabe titans whom I had grown accustomed to playing with in Cameroon. Don’t get me wrong, I actually appreciate players who play hard and fight for a goal and a win as I consider one’s play-ethic (to coin a term) on the field to be reflective of one’s work-ethic off the field. What’s more, playing hard isn’t incompatible with good sportsmanship.
That brings me to my pal Ian, who plays hard and exhibits exemplary sportsmanship on the pitch . He not only sent me back to Africa with good memories of good times of playing football in freezing rain, but also gifted me a jersey of his hometown team, Scottish Premiership football club St Johnstone. This picture was taken today after Friday football for Ian. Here I am proudly rocking my St. Johnstone strip. (And if you’re curious, my team won tonight–thanks in part to my goal! Maybe I got a lucky jersey!?)