Part of the SAC teacher's visit to St. Mary's college in Ndop was a football match between the teachers. I got to play! People asked me if I was able to play. I may be white, but I'm from suburban America: of course I play soccer!
We wore the SAC team's uniforms. I picked number 13, the day of the month Logan and I married, and the day of the month Helena and James were born, and Manny Machado's number, the Baltimore Orioles' third baseman. He's my children's favorite baseball player. When I played soccer in grade school, I always coveted jersey number 8, Cal Ripken Jr's number. I figured I'd continue the tradition.
Of course there had to be palm wine, so we started by literally pregaming it, with palm-wine passed around. Don't worry, palm win is closer to gatorade in terms of its content than it is to beer or grape wine. Electrolytes! The palm wine was fresh, or "young," and so it was sweet and not so alcoholic.
We "warmed up," took pictures, then the match began. I should note that I met several teachers from SAC that played in the match, teachers I had never met before, and teachers who were surprisingly good at football. In the words of Mr. Killian, another SAC teacher, "No Battle is won without mercenaries."
|Setting up for a corner kick.|
(As an aside, Killian is one of the most hilarious teachers at SAC. Once, during exams, he left the room where he was proctoring an exam and spoke sternly to the neighboring class, who had finished their exam already. "You people need to stop noise and be quiet. Your elder brothers and sisters in Form Five are still signing their death warrants.")
After the excitement of the first half, the second half was rather pedestrian. Both sides were tired, the sun was hot, the level of play decreased. No goals were scored. I got super exhuasted. Everyone was happy when the whistle blew for the end of the game, then we shook hands and had more palm wine. I was happy for the Cameroonian Gatorade.
After the game, the players took a "rub down" with a bucket bath, then we got dressed for dinner. And had more palm wine.
Football is widely popular here. The people love to watch a match, even between the most inexperienced teams. I found the playing style a little uneven, with ball handling skills well developed, and team play beyond basic strategy almost non-existant. This was, after all, only an amateur match, between teachers, so is not indicative of the level of play country-wide. I waas playing, and I haven't played since 8th grade. Cameroon has a well-respected team which qualified for the World Cup this year, and Cameroon is home to some of the world's top players.
And now, SAC has a white guy on their team.