RIP Bobsam Elejiko

It’s a fairly chilled Sunday afternoon when I see the a post on Facebook from Aloys:

Met diepe droefheid melden wij u het plotse overlijden van Bobsam Elejiko. Hij zakte zondag plots in elkaar op het veld. Snelle hulp van Jan en Veerle, noch de hulpdiensten die snel ter plaatse waren, mochten baten.

Onze gedachten zijn bij de familie en vrienden van Bobsam.

I read through it fairly quickly surprised to see such complex Dutch words and sentences coming from Aloys.  It says that Bobsam has passed away.  After a second read, it says that Bobsam died whilst playing on Sunday.  I can’t believe it, I assume it’s some sort of Facebook joke.  But no that’s too cruel.

Bobsam sometimes walked off the pitch frustrated by the lack of commitment

When I first arrived at the park to train, Bobsam immediately drafted me into his team to play.  It turned out that they’d actually mistaken me for Achie, the Brazilian who is an intermittent regular at the field.  During a nervous display from me Bobsam kept coming to talk to me, he saw that I could play, and had the trust – the willingness to take a chance – to keep giving me the ball to help me to overcome the initial nerves.  He did this in the sort of park game which can sometimes be ruthlessly un-tactical and a throw-back to survival of the fittest , where an entire side of a team may be neglected by their own team.  After that match he explained to me that he wasn’t there to prove himself.

It became a ritual for me.  Whenever I would arrive at the park I would always look for Bobsam first, after every game we would chat he would constantly remind me that I knew how to play and that he could see ‘it’ coming back every day.  He would also come up to me in the middle of the game and tell me if my positioning had been bad or if I needed to have told him that I was leaving my man.  I loved when I was picked to play on his team, because I knew he would bring a bit of simpleness and calmness to the team.  If I was ever in trouble, I’d play a simple ball to him and one touch later we’d have averted any danger.

This time when I’d arrived at the park Bobsam wasn’t his usual presence.  He was seldom there and often when he was coming it was just to watch.  We didn’t find as many occasions to speak this time, but he told me he was preparing to go overseas and play.  Since the last time I’d been here, I’d hear that Pablo Kargbo had left to Azerbaijan, where his brother was playing, these countries seemed to be the obvious choice for players nearing the ends of their careers.

He’d been playing for SC Merksem in the 4th division, where all of his 3 sons play.  It was on Sunday in the middle of a match that he fell to the floor without any contact from the opposition.  He started convulsing as if experiencing an epileptic fit.  His team-mates screamed for the doctors, who were there quickly apparently, but there was nothing which could be done.  Bobsam had had a heart problem about 5 years back and I’ve been hearing different things from different quarters.  Some say he was told to stop playing 5 years ago.  Apparently the club new nothing about it.  Others say he’d had the clearance to play from doctors.

On Monday we naively setup the rehearsal space as usual.  We had to do it anyway.  I had no idea what would happen and immediately I was taken back to the nerves of the first weeks, waiting, wondering.  Only Sunny, Aloys and Essien were there.  We’d gotten calls from different players, all kind of vague, but saying they’d be there soon.  In the end we all jumped on a bus for the very short trip to Bobsam’s place.  Inside were a large group footballers from the park and his family.  Everything was quite pragmatic.  The family was at the table dealing with paperwork and the Nigerian community were on the couches organising there own tributes.  Junior, Jimmy and ID were all there.  When I saw how long Junior hugged Bobsam’s wife Caroline for it really started to sink in.  She held him so tight, I don’t even know if she knew him.  But I bet he reminded her of Bobsam.  I’d seen her in pictures from the field.  I can’t image  what it’s like.  But I know that every time I’m at the park and I see a similar figure approaching, I can’t help but think it’s him.

Rest In Peace Bosam Elejiko

~ by ahilito on November 16, 2011.

One Response to “RIP Bobsam Elejiko”

  1. Hey mate

    This is such a sad story. However, I feel very lucky to know someone like you, who was in a position to not only bring this news to us, but do it in such an eloquent manner.
    You’re doing some amazing work over there. Keep it up!

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