Sunday, February 3, 2013 (Day 25)
I was absolutely in pieces when I got home from coaching and playing football yesterday with Real Stars FC. It was probably 35 degrees when we played and when I got home I could barely eat my dinner. I must have drunk five bags of packet water before bed. And so I am thanking my lucky stars that I can have my first long lie in today; with the girls absent and Sunday being Famarta’s day off from the kitchen. I get up most mornings at 6.45 so back to bed with a cup of tea at nine o’clock seems positively sloth-like.
Sadly, Area Best got knocked out of the regional play offs on damn penalties. Had they won the shoot-out, they would have travelled down to Freetown next week for the play off final and the right to play in the Sierra Leone Premier League next season. The differences between success and failure in football are often so fine: a whole season and a club’s future decided by one footballer hitting the outside rather than the inside of the post in a penalty shoot-out. The same applies to some of the young lads I’ve seen playing in the Makeni league. Are all the lads at the academy in Tombo so much better than them? Possibly not. It often depends upon how you played the day the scouts came to watch you perform. A couple of the boys from Real Stars under 12s would definitely get into my academy team.
In the late afternoon, I meet up with all of the coordinators from the CBF to brainstorm some ideas for the upcoming community projects. The subjects are: Child & universal rights (February); Women & disability (March); Health (April); Sanitation & hygiene (May); Environment & ecology (June). After an hour or two of discussion and debate there is just time for me to catch some of the day’s second African Nations quarter final between Togo and Burkina Faso. Nigeria knocked out tournament hosts Ivory Coast earlier in the day. Drogba and his boys looked pretty laboured throughout the tournament and certainly would not have deserved to make the final four.
Dusk settles as I walk home along the Azzolini Highway; lorries coughing out diesel fumes as they pass; motor bikes beeping to warn pedestrians not to step out into the road; acrid smoke filling the air along one section of tarmac as locals burn plastic cartons and bags on a compost heap. Makeni is quite a spectacle at this time of the day. I feel like the bit part in an award-winning foreign film, praised for its stunning cinematography and realism. Ladies carry huge weights on their heads; other local women sit by the roadside trying to sell bunches of bananas and sweet potatoes. Human traffic is moving in every direction; mechanical traffic is moving in every direction. It is quite a scene.
More Than a Game joined The Collective and the Craig Bellamy Foundation in Sierra Leone for a seven-week voluntary placement in January 2013.