HOME IS A CASTLE OF STORIES

UEFA: A TUSSLE OF LIONS


A year ago, or so, a friend asked me to write about a particular game we played in high school. I told him I would do it, but I had no plans for such. At the time, I had done a couple of stories about my high school. Guys raved over those tales, shared them up and down and soaked in past memories. It was nice, but I backed out. I did not wish to be the writer lost in ‘high school nostalgia’. So, I shelved writing anything about high school. 

Subsequently, I forgot about the promise I had made to my buddy, a solid, smart chap.

Days fell off the calendar. I thought about the game and high school. I would meet up former schoolmates and we would trade narratives on how awesome the game was. How it was the only thing that could make us want to return to high school again. But I think we’ve been blowing smoke each other’s ass. Nobody wants to return to a place where you had to be in class by six a.m. We had enough of that.

The game though has been hanging over me like a dark cloud. I think about it most of the time, but never writing about it and keeping the promise. I guess my buddy forgot about it or thought to himself, “What kind of bullshit writer is Osoch? The chap can’t do a simple story about a game? A freaking game!!?”  Sorry mate... It’s this animal, life.

I was going through the screenshots on my phone and I came up to the conversation with my buddy about the game. As with most guys, it was punctuated with laughter. The Bible teaches us to live up to our promises. As a humble, God-fearing guy, I thought to myself, “I really need to write that story.” I don’t want to be struck down by angels for not keeping promises.

The semester has drawn to a close. I recently finished exams and have had loads of time in my hands. It’s spilling out, (time), I don’t know how to spend it. The factory setting is read stories, write stories and sleep, a lot of sleeping. Funny enough, I swear it’s witchcraft, there’s no sleep. I sauntered out of bed at 3 a.m. Normal days, I struggle to wake up, but after exams, it’s like the body clock shifts completely. I am alert as a soldier in the mountains of Afghanistan, battling the Taliban.

It’s 4:11 a.m. as I type through this. It’s raining outside, the rhythm of the past few weeks. This is a perfect time to have a partner and cuddle away the flinging cold. Earlier, I sat up in bed, blankets pulled to my chest and thought about the game we played in high school. I thought about my friend too, he who made the request. I haven’t seen him in two years. We haven’t WhatsApped in a while. He went off-grid, maybe to declutter and clear his head. You know the social media AWOL that millennials pull these days. Who knows? Where could he be? How’s life coming on him? Anyway, when I post this story, I’ll hit him up and see what’s cooking.

The game, we christened it UEFA. We all know what UEFA means, the Champions League, where the big boys of European football slaughter each other. Now, what am yet to understand is how the name UEFA founds its way into the game. When I arrived, a blue form one, the game was termed as UEFA, even teachers had the idea. When I left, it was still UEFA. Who came up with such a name for the game? Who was the first person to utter the word? How did he feel when it slipped out of his mouth? Does he have any idea that he started a movement? Does he still think of UEFA wherever he is?

For those struggling to understand UEFA, it was an amateur football game. We decided on the rules, FIFA had no say, though we used standard FIFA balls. The rest of the guidelines were on us. Rules of UEFA were simple. Two teams playing each other. One team couldn’t have all the star players. There was no offside. Tackles were allowed, and boy we did shovel each other. There was no referee. Stuff like handball was handled by common sense. We used handball goalposts as the goalposts. Basically, it was street football on another level. Oh, one last rule, you played it barefoot. To play with shoes was an abomination.

UEFA defined high school for many of us in ways that nothing did. UEFA was our first love. And ask anyone who went through Kapsabet, the demon in the background is UEFA. We think of it in workplaces and offices. UEFA chases us through campus halls. There’s fella who’s arguing with his wife, he thinks of UEFA to forget. A chap in his honeymoon will think about UEFA. The spouse will get mad, wonder if he’s remembering hoes from his past. It’s not that sweetie. It’s a beautiful game, it’s UEFA.

The guys reading this and played UEFA, there’s a bond. An invisible cord joining all of us. Those who did not get a chance to be part of it, you have no idea what you missed. Anyway, you’re awesome in your own ways. And I know you too were part of some ulterior rituals which we will never understand or come to know of. To us, UEFA was Baba na Mama.
We played in the evenings, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. We would sweat, score loads of goals against each other. But when the bell for supper went, we would scatter like wildebeests. Boys and food.

To Tony Manyara, cheers bro. Si we are cool now.








3 comments:

  1. 😁😂🤣🤣🤣🤣.Hated this type of street football but it was fantastic.I have never loved football since the time I injured my left hand small finger and had to hide it from my mother.She was ruthless when it come to matters dealing with injuries.I never played the game but I adored it.Ooh you mentioned Manyara,the nickname stuck to eternity,He was a good deskmate of mine.I cherish the memories.

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  2. Where have I been all along?? ,I must have missed lots of sweet stories

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  3. UEFA was a ritual,a bonding event,a boxing event,you name it😂I was a fan of football but I never really knew how to play the game,then came UEFA.We had watched a Liverpool game the previous day and witnessed Origi show no mercy on the opposing team and then it happened.Just like Origi ,I scored two goals (a brace) just by waiting for the ball near the post and tapping that sucker in😂hence branded the name Origi everytime we stepped on the pitch,everyone somehow forgetting Roy,a name I was given after two years of birth (I was named Obama before they changed it😂😭)

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