Return to

The change at the park is immediately apparent.  Even aside from the big things.  Like the fact that we’ve moved back to the field next to the post-office because they’ve began construction on the football field across the road in order to convert it into some sort of kid’s playground paradise. Or the fact that at least half the players are new or unrecognisable.  Bobsam isn’t there anymore and you begin to wonder if one player could effect the quality of the game that much?  In Bobsam’s case I’d probably argue yes.

I meet Shumu on the sidelines, there’s something so loveable about this guy, a sort of nonchalant cheekiness.  I almost imagine him going around stealing picnic baskets like Yogi bear.  He’s still not playing with a club and doesn’t seem the slightest big bothered by it either.  He’s studying Dutch.  I try not to ask him too many questions but, being back at the park, I begin anxious to try and suck up everything that’s happened since I’ve been gone.  I can see Praise and Junior playing.  Since I’ve been gone via Facebook it’s become apparent that these guys are homeboys and have been enjoying the European summer.  You can see it on the field as well.

The updates begin.  Skill (aka Ibukun Akinfenwa) has moved on, he’s at a 2nd division club in Portugal, Of course.  I could see that coming a mile away.  Too good and determined a player not to be playing.

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ID.  The news hits me like this black smoke pervading my lungs and stomach.  ID’s getting deported.  Well maybe not, it depends on if the Nigerian embassy claims him as a Nigerian.  Shit.  Apparently ID ran a red light and the police picked him up.  Thing is, after all the shit that man had been through in his life, I thought he actually had the right papers when we worked last year.

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When ID performs it’s like you can see his history in his eyes. Photo: Danny Busschots

Essien.  Apparently the kid’s cousins, who he was staying with, were up to some shady business.  The police raided their house and found Essien.  I’m guessing that his visa (he had a year’s work permit for Greece, where he’d originally been set to go and trial) had expired.  They say he’s now in the some sort of centre, he’s not going to be deported, but he does have to stay there for 3 months.

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After treading around this project so anxiously for months, it was probably a few month ago that I began to relax and began to believe that all would work out well for the players and for the project.  The naivety of it all hits really hard as I sit back to watch them train.  All around me are new players, I start to wonder where they’re going, if any of them will make it.

One of the players I met last year, Lateef, rocks up.  We’d talked about him being in the show but it hadn’t worked out.  He looks really healthy and fit with a nice training jersey and shoes.  I remember sitting on the street with him in the cold and lending him a jacket last year.  He borrowed 5 euros from me for phone credit.

~ by ahilito on October 14, 2012.

One Response to “Return to”

  1. As a theatre graduate and football fanatic, I am completely fascinated by this project. I cant wait to see one of the performances in February!

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