Saturday, September 13, 2008

Insights into Sierra Leonean football...

Last Saturday the Salone Stars were on the field again; a World cup qualifying match versus Equatorial Guinea, which I learned is the only Spanish speaking country in Africa. Unfortunately even football does not function smoothly in Sierra Leone; apparently the star player, Kallon, had to buy plane tickets for a number of the players to come from Europe; crazy.

We bought tickets earlier in the morning at the police station. I’m not quite sure why they are bought there, but that seems to be the norm. My guess is the police must be making some money off of it. Due to rainy season we decided to go for the expensive i.e. covered seats just in case of some showers, which set me back $10. The cheaper seats are $3.

When we arrived, we parked at what looked like a car wash. We were rudely greeted by a bunch of young guys who continuously called us white girls “baby”. We were annoyed and quickly moved along. After some pushing and shoving, and one pick-pocketing attempt, we made our way into the stadium area. After entering we noticed that many vehicles were parked just outside of the stadium so we decided to move the car. The policemen were quick to tell us that we should beg one of them to ‘watch’ the car for us. As if. Nice try.

We made our way to the stands and were entertained long before the game officially started; the teams warming up, the referees running back and forth along the midfield line, the police marching band playing with a man at the front twirling a baton and marching with his knees practically touching his chin, men dressed in crazy Sierra Leonean colored outfits, and lots of noise from people in the crowd. During the game we filled our stomachs with peanuts, meat on sticks, soda and bagged water.

The game was great. Sierra Leone won 2-1. There was lots of lively discussion throughout the game by the multitudes of Sierra Leoneans watching on; arguing, disagreeing, cheering the team on. Just after the second goal the Stars fouled and a penalty was allotted to the opposing team. When the penalty was scored, silence fell over the stadium. I guess there were no supporters for the other team and I almost felt bad for them. Half way through the game the score board stopped working, not a surprise there. And as the game came to an end the riot police made their appearance and lined up around the outskirts, just in case the fans would storm the field. It remained peaceful and we soon made our way home, stuck in traffic along the way, only to be passed up by the football teams in their buses being escorted by police vans with sirens and flashing lights. Of course a couple of taxis and local mini buses turned on their hazards and followed them, piggy backing off of the easy way through traffic. We were good and remained stuck in traffic for awhile. Oh Salone, I love it!


Anonymous said...

Great game and fun; I was there too, taking the pictures. My can and hat next too you prove my presence. Good story!

Justin Wallace said...

Yay Salone!!! That's two wins and a draw! Wouldn't that be awesome if we got in!!!

~ Act Justly. Love Mercy. Walk Humbly. micah 6:8 ~