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Funmi Iyanda
Lagos, Nigeria
Funmi Iyanda is a multi award-winning producer and broadcast journalist. She is the CEO of Ignite Media and Executive Director of Creation Television
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Monday, September 10, 2007

We won didn't we?

Saw Okocha exercising at Proflex on Friday, said hello and got on with exorcising the bag of cookies from lunch in preparation for the forest gateau at dinner. Reluctant football convert Bose walks in Saturday and declares, "so did you see the match? The pitch was awful and Kanu slapped someone but didn't get booked, anyway we won". Sunday and I'm tying my gele to attend a burial, ran out of excuses to dodge it so a bit snappy when football mad Tayo bounds in beaming, we won, we won! Look out into the street we won! I looked out and there is a throng running towards the highway in jubilation. It's been a weekend of football action. Personally, after following Nigeria through 3 world cup finals, two Olympic games and two All African games as well as years of close association with the working of the Nigerian Football Association and Sports Ministry l am at best ambivalent about it all. My ambivalence is self-preservatory, l no wan crase.

Lets go out and celebrate Tayo charges, all six foot of youthful energy radiating in my direction. I wouldn't have minded going out to celebrate with her, always game for any extra joy l can squeeze out of a day but l have this bloody burial to get to and l cant get the image of a conversation l once had with a young footballer who had wanted me to help him speak with someone who could get him into the under 17 team out of my head. It went thus.

FI: How old are you?
Player: 15 years old
FI (observing his recently shaven gemu despite his brief stature and determined to have fun with him), look my brother, l cant help you if you don't tell me the truth o, tell me your real age so we can know how to package you.
Player: okay aunty l am 19 years
FI: oya try put small
Player (shifting from foot to foot and smiling conspiringly back at me) l be 24.
FI: Na you biko so how you wan make we do am now? you too old, if you be 19 now, we fit manage am but 24, mba mba my brother.
Player: l beg aunty Funmi, na so dem dey do am o, e get people wen l know we be my mate, wey don enter team o.
FI: e fit be so but me l not fit help you, abeg no vex.

He left and l never saw him again except for a few appearances in the national under 21 team.


Oracle said...

We're really glad that the boyz emerged victorious.

I was tensed while watching the match but victory came our way.
A lot of people are trying to get there, maybe for fame or money or coz they wanna exhibit their skills, but for whatever reason a player wants to get into the field, he'd better be good.

laspapi said...

I can't figure it out. Even though I went mental with joy when we defeated Spain, somewhere in the back of my mind, I was wondering about the ages of these guys. Yeah, Obafemi Martins is 21 or so. Kanu is 32 or there about. Okocha is burnt out at 33. The Under 17s of England etc don't stand a chance against the geriatric footballers we field in those categories.
But enough of my lack of patriotism, we won!!!

Chxta said...

For those who are so quick to jump on the overage band wagon...

I remember people saying that the Kanu group was full of age cheats, but 14 years later and the spine of the team is still playing competitive football, Kanu, Oruma, Babayaro are still very much on the first team sheets of their clubs (Oruma and Babayaro are currently injured). Of the Italian team in the same tournament, only Buffon and Totti are still at the top of their game, so what gives?

Not to say that we haven't had age cheats in the past, but those stories are so overplayed that it has become boring to listen to them now...