For Nigerians, Football is Life – [Femi’s Column]

Arsenal players celebrate after a nine-years trophy draught

Arsenal players celebrate after a nine-years trophy draught

Just last year, I was invited to a youth program in one of the Christian fellowships in school.

I was seated with fifteen male students from different backgrounds; studying entirely different courses. The coordinators were yet to arrive and the room was mundane- Everybody played the mind your business game.

The time was a quarter past five, and like a flash, I remembered my team Arsenal was set to kick off two hours earlier. With no internet connection available, I made a call to a friend who we planned on watching the game together, but cancelled due to the unexpected circumstances.

Unfortunately, His treble voice when I requested for the result illustrated something tragic might happened.
Being a passionate fan, I didn’t hide my disgust to what he told me; stupid Arsenal! I bemoaned loud, unconsciously.

Suddenly, everybody in the room stared at me like I was striping naked and subsequently concerned about the scores too. We lost 3-0 at home I replied. Their response was gloomy; some lamenting, others quiet but couldn’t hide their emotions. One of the guys sitting close to me then raised a topic if the club should sack the manager. From them on, it was like a planned forum- everybody raising different suggestions, argument was also the ordeal of the day. But we had no clues of our names, what brought us together? Football.

Some of the younger generation football fans, who were not born then, are forced to digest most of what transpired during the civil war. But it’s ludicrous when people suggest the War “was and is” the only most deadly predicament the world faced. In football, there are instances that are far more disturbing, evil and sinister.

You would be looking for a volcano eruption when you dare lecture Chelsea fans on why Manchester United and Arsenal are better clubs than them. But last year, the same rival fans celebrated together in harmony when Nigeria defied all odds by lifting the African Cup of Nations in South Africa. Life.

I am a fan of dedication. With most Nigerians living below $1 dollar a day, you don’t need a soothsayer to reveal the hardship the country is facing.

Securing a job is such an arduous task.

And one can only praise the parents out there who struggle to send their wards to school to become educated, because when they are educated, cases of Boko Haram recruiting Nigerians would be annihilated. But Football also, in a strange twist of fate has its own dedications.

Back in secondary school, I observed an incredibly strange behavior from my friend Kola. I had mistaken it for a parsimonious attitude, but I was wrong.

While other students lavishly wasted their lunch money on junks, my friend saved his and starved. Due to being overly curious, I inquired on why embark on such a harmful decision that could exacerbated to ulcer. Kola was defiant. ‘’ Food is not my problem he replied’’; I would definitely get some when I get home, even if I don’t, I can starve.’’

I assumed he was probably going mad, but I dug deep. He revealed that if he didn’t save his lunch money, he would be unable to catch the routine Saturday/ Sunday English Premier league games, and also the weekdays Uefa Champions League encounters. I wept. That is an equally dedicated human being.

Maybe if Goodluck Ebele Jonathan is dedicated to his obligatory works like my friend, we would not be facing terrorism in the country.