Written by Kimaru, St. Joseph’s Captain
What can I do, I mean, what can I do and do it perfectly? The devil and I know there is nothing. But give me a soccer ball and I will be fair to myself.
“Ball is different.” says John. He is the 50 something year old player of Lemok Stars team. The oldest in the league. “The experience of playing soccer is identical to the process of shedding some lonesome tears.” He proceeds, “They are both connected to the same genus of solemnity and depth; though they, of course, fall on opposite sides of the spectrum.” Wow! At this point, I asked him to break down his meaning for me.
Just to let you know, this conversation is being replayed on my mind. The actual event took part in June the 24th, 2010 on St.Joseph’s primary school soccer field.
Jesse Humm, Matthew Hurwit and Abaye Steinmetz-Silber were standing close to where John and I were. Howe Pearson was missing but that was nothing to worry about anymore. It is true that to give a foreigner days is to hand them, bit by bit, certainty of walking about like the owners of the land; maybe even a proposal to be future owners. I was in fact pleased to see these American friends respond positively to the live in Kapseret. And my homevillage friends reported to me that they were finding their intercourse with them each time more comfortable and educational.
I said these three friends were not too far away from where John and I were. It is not a lie but I am ignoring a swamp of village mates partaking their company. Please don’t ask me why I intentionally omitted these details. The point is, I just wanted you to know that white people were around and you can make the inference that they are the ones who help me organize this soccer league. They were not too far away. Probably a few sound decibels away. But I am sure they did not overhear this conversation because there was enough excitement coming from their station and not to mention great activity taking place on the soccer field. So everyone was well occupied.
“Eh?” I asked John. This is a careless short form of saying “what do you mean” in Swahili. John did not answer immediately. He felt his pocket, took out his phone and checked whether there was unread message. Or did he check time? I don’t know. He could have even looked for an explanation of his statements. Weird shit happens in villages.
He must have got what he looked for in his phone for he looked up and grinned. He explained that a prospective soccer match, the activity of soccer-playing and the ‘aftermath’, meaning thoughts about the match (it doesn’t matter whether victory, defeat or draw were the end results), these three things are connected to very singular sentiments. He said even the anxious players are still excited that they are gonna play; the feeling is mighty. Even the trailing teams bears an invisible badge of excitement as they play along. To a soccer player, just the thought of having played yesterday brings fulfillment. True, I liked what i heard. Now I implored him to explain how this passion about soccer is related to shedding lonesome tears and how the two differ as he had mentioned earlier on.
“Listen my boy.” Oh John carry on! “Visualize the sentiment that moves people into tears whenever they feel lonesome. Isn’t it rather powerful as the sentiment that inhabits the hearts of soccer fanatics?” No doubt. “A soccer lover’s passion are self-expressed and genuine. And you cannot force yourself to shed some lonesome tears. When you do, my brother they are real and deep.” Indeed. Two nods followed for emphasis. “If there is a category called solemnity and powerfulness these two sentiments (lonesome-sentiment and soccer passion-sentiment) will be grouped in there; together side by side. But they differ only by their end products.” He did not wait for me to ask how. “The sentiment that a soccer lover like you has produces ecstasy while the sentiment that a lonesome person has yields sorrows and sadness. That’s the difference!” Mmh! This sounds escaped unannounced as I waited for these words to take root in my mind. John paused too. Finally I said, so they are identical in character (powerful and unfakeable) and are only judged to be different by means of observing their effects. “Just think about it.” John replied.
Long time as gone since that conversation happened but still the message still lingers in my head. I believe the truthfulness of the message is one of those things that requires experience in order to be fully grasped. I hope by upholding this habit of kicking soccer balls whenever there is a chance will one day help me understand the true meaning of it and I will be in the position to freely fall in love with art without no reservation. With such a gift, soccer as a tool for social change will becoming easy to wield. I understand I may never learn to play soccer excellently, to be frank never, but if I can perfectly capture the sensation tied to soccer-love I will be well rewarded. The devil will know.
As for John, his team did not win the champions. It was checked in semi-finals. Nonetheless, he got one hell of a friend thinking.