The Friends I made with Footballing
In my small corner somewhere in Nigeria, I decided to stay indoor like forever until my cousin beckon to me a soccer pitch not too far from our house. Soccer! My favourite sport, although I watch more on T.V than going on pitch. It has been many years I played in pitch.
Saturday morning is the deal day, where guys from the neighbourhood gather to touch in pitch. Enliven by the prospect of playing again, I took to the pitch early. Seeing strange and many faces, I fidgeted. But for the love of soccer, I moved on to play.
Indeed at the end of the session, I had turn the strange faces to known friends, with whom I will smile and share in the future. Soccer has joined us together. It has blur the barrier of tongues, culture and personality. On that earth we touch football we are all on a leveled status.
From the neighbourhood are guys who are gatekeepers, sons of rich parents, middle-class and others of varying economic status. But that really is meaningless as our feet meet and our cheeks smiles. Everyone has learned the art of humility and tolerance, thanks to football.
Diversity lies in the soul of my country, especially in tongues and tribes. But we meet in the pitch never as Hausa, Igbo or Yoruba speakers but as citizens of soccer nation where we speak unity through the language of football.
Though we need to communicate, the styles and signs of soccer made it easier to connect and get to the goal. From different post we have arrived in the pitch but we seemingly play as a team as though we emerge from a single womb.
The spirit of friendship, teamwork, honour and humility were learned and replicated even outside the pitch box. We would meet in the street, event and other avenues, so we relate as football brothers.
Painfully though, in another corner of my country lies tribal and tongue conflict mostly birth by fight for superiority and survival. Resulting to crises and destruction of lives and properties, consuming Man heart is fire of hatred and violence. Never would this bring comfort or prosperity.
The more I go in pitch, the merrier our friendship across tribes and tongues. The merrier our friendship, the more it radiate across all transaction even outside footballing. I have learned that friendship breeds honor and humility, it teaches respect for difference and uphold genuine peace.