Monday, March 15, 2010

Ohn Mine Goodness!


From the communities surrounding our village, there is a group of young men who have formed an athletic association. Early in the evening, several times a week, they practice football (soccer) in a sand lot across from our village. They challenged the employees of our orphanage to a friendly game of football. And we accepted the challenge!

Some guards, a cook, and a gardener made up the heart of our team, but we were a few members short, so friends of the guards (read "ringers" here) filled in the open spots. Dave wanted to play, but as the village health manager (and his loving, caring wife!) I told him that he could NOT play soccer with those guys! I have watched them practice, and is anyone else aware that soccer is a full-on contact sport? Only without the protective pads and helmets of American football? Oy! I reminded Dave that there is no Medi-flight helicopter here in Liberia. So he became the unofficial team captain!

A day and time for the game was finally agreed upon by both teams: a Sunday afternoon. Of course, two days before the Big Match, I was informed by the official team captain who is our Head Of Security (also officially known as "Supreme Commander", I am not kidding here; that really is his title!) that our team needed uniforms. What?!? He must have noted my reaction (this is why he is the Supreme Commander, as he can read body language so well), as he then suggested that at least the same color shirts for the whole team would be good. Which is still a daunting task here in Liberia...fifteen matching adult shirts?

But we are resourceful people, and off we went to town, in search of matching shirts. With the help of some Liberian personal shoppers, we finally found new white tee-shirts in the market at Waterside. We stenciled our village initials on the shirts. They looked quite nice, and the team was pleased to be wearing official game shirts.

It was a fun game, with our unpracticed but very spirited team putting on a good show. We attracted a little crowd of spectators, some of which were children and mothers from our village. The mothers enjoyed cheering for our High Commander whose name is Charles. Now Charles is a very proper man and a bit intimidating in size and demeanor. But that did not stop the mothers from yelling at "Charlie" to make a goal! Wow! Never before thought of him as a Charlie.

There was a man at the game who had a bull horn. He graciously did a running commentary throughout the game. His favorite phrase was "Ohn Mine Goodness!" as the ball flew from one side of the field to the other. The crowd cheered every good kick and block, no matter which team executed the play. It was an enjoyable afternoon with our neighbors. Of course, we let the athletic association win (which really means we got slaughtered!). Bottles of water and good natured remarks were exchanged at the end of the game, and our team promised to play them again!

Monday, it was back to work as usual. All the team shirts were handed in, and "Charlie" was Charles again. The medical clinic was a busy place though, as I handed out Ibuprofen to our battered and hobbling football players. And the theme that kept recurring in conversations throughout the day was "Next time, we'll show them!" The competitive spirit is alive and well in Liberia!

Wishing you all a good day!
love, Babs