Sunday, 26 July 2009

the football

The football. Last sunday I had one of the most insane "cultural experiences" of my life. (I am sorry I could not write sooner but I have been slightly under the weather.)

It is Real Tamale Utd. vs Ashgold and Tamale need to win or they will be relegated. The Stadium built by the Chinese and funded by the USA is worthy of England supporting about 20,000 seats and proper toilets. I fear for my life as Jess and I are pushed through a seething crowd of fans squashed into a tiny space whilst David tries to buy the tickets for 3cd (about $1.80)and the others are nowhere to be seen. Someone pulls us through a door and we are in the Stadium grounds where our lungs are able to take in some air. Jess and I wait quietly and patiently by the door minding our own business whilst soldiers with machine guns and sticks keep control. Every now and again another group of people burst through the door and we try to melt into the wall but nothing serious happens and finally our group makes its way through. Instead of the smell of fish and chips and beer, we are greated with soya kebabs and water sachets balanced on the heads of women. Instead of chants there is drums and every sort of homemade percussion which gives the whole game a tribal feel. We can sit where we like and we choose the half way line close to the front surrounded by fans. The atmosphere is one of humour, excitement and anxiety and the noise is wonderful. No other whites, No other women.
Before the match starts a half naked man with a snake comes on to the field- a traditional healer we find out later. He then joins a group of men who turn out to be chiefs and they all start fighting! Its Anarchy! The soldiers come to defuse the situation but everytime one chief pushes another the crowd stands up and shouts! Suddenly everyone stands up as the "commisioners" enter their VIP box and Real Tamale Utd. run on to the pitch followed by Ashgold. The only advertisement on the pitch is glo- the mobile network that is supporting the premiership.

The stadium is half full, the noise is deafening (though everyone is sitting down) and the whistle goes. At that moment we realise David went to get water 20 minutes ago and he isn't back- I breathe a sigh of relief as I see him walk down to our spot. It turns out he had been caught in a stampeed as fans tried to enter the stadium whilst the Police/army were spraying everyone with water and using their sticks. David had made a great escape and all was fine.
It turns out neither side were amazing at football but A for effort and tackling. RTU has a free kick, we hold our breathe, no goal. David tells us he heard last week the police teargassed the spectators because things got out of hand. Ashgold has a free kick! no goal. Don't worry though because we do not belong to a tribe so we will be fine. We decide however that we will leave ten minutes early if RTU are losing because there will be riots and the police have guns. A woman balancing biscuits on her head sells some goods in front of us. Medics are running on (with their little golf car) no.31 Ashgold is down! Luckily he was obviously faking and he can carry on playing. Random people are standing around the pitch and the soldiers are watching the game on the pitch. No.16 RTU is dribbling to the goal and! he misses. I cant help but think winning and losing is now a matter of life and death. I have never been so into my football!
The fat chiefs start another fight on the pitch- Mr. Chief in green does not understand you cannot just take the football because you want your side to win. A penalty to RTU! Its a shame we have to wait twenty minutes to take it because another fight breaks out on the pitch. We wonder why they seat all the fans together? are they crazy? yes. The crowd start throwing water sachets at the soldiers and the chiefs. Anarchy. Football continues and five minutes later we are all standing up shouting, RTU scored!!! Kadri is our man!
Unfortunately it starts another riot amongst the chiefs, the crowd are throwing things, the soldiers are coming! Its half -time and the situation difuses. We find out that most of the soldeirs were probably peace-keepers on the Lebanese border. Though there was at least half an hour injury time they were allowed 2 1/2 minutes and the next half of the game was more of the same. Fights, medics and subs with only one yellow card in the whole game! I asked how much the players were paid and I was told 3-400cd/month which is approximately 120-170 pounds. Not much.
RTU won one-nil and Katie even managed to fall asleep in the second half. At the end of the game instead of rioting there was massive rejoicing and cheering so we all went on to the pitch and were mobbed with calls of "snap me" with the camara or "marry me" which was a little less understandable. The referee had more protection than Obama as he was escorted from the field. What a day, what a game.

Talia Chain

No comments:

Post a Comment