How people in the hood got glued to the World Cup

Torn Apart: BOYD PHIRI
WITH the World Cup in Russia coming to an end today, soccer enthusiasts would be thinking of adjusting to their regular entertainment activities in the hood.Indeed, it’s been an exciting period of football, with all its disappointments on the part of losers and celebratory mood among the winners at all stages of the game.
For some people in the hood, the 2018 World Cup provided something to talk about away from the routine of sharing stories about the escapades of the previous night’s binge drinking.
Believe it or not, it was rare to hear most men talking about how they drank themselves stupid the previous night.
The story they shared every morning was about football, how their team won and lost it in the midfield, how the strikers couldn’t utilise their chances in front of goal.
Forget about England’s Raheem Sterling’s missing of a number of scoring opportunities in the quarter and semi-final encounters.
Sterling’s misfortunes became food for thought among England supporters in the hood. Some thought our very own Chipolopolo’s Alex Ng’onga would do better in front of goal for England.
“Why sibanafakemo Alex Ng’onga?” some would ask why England did not seek the services of Alex Ng’onga.
Actually, it did not go quite like that, of course, there were those who did not have the slightest idea about teams playing at the World Cup.
For instance, you had to keep on reluctantly educating your missus about the identity of the teams playing on a daily basis.
“Ba vala va red niba England, ba vala va dark-blue nama box-box niba Croatia,” meaning, “the ones wearing the red jersey are England and the ones wearing dark-blue jersey with boxes in front are Croatia.”
But she would still not understand, sometimes mistaking the referee for a player.
Nomba ulya ufwele fya black tabale mupelako bola,” she would say referring to the referee, meaning “Why are they not passing the ball to the one wearing a black uniform?
Even those who do not understand football got interested in the World Cup.
It was not easy to explain the identity of some teams to your missus, especially after the exit of Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal, Lionel Messi’s Argentina and Neymar’s Brazil.
For obvious reasons, most women in the hood only knew teams where most famous players played at the World Cup in Russia.
But all the same, everyone got soaked into the drama at the World Cup, especially that Video Assistant Referee (VAR) decisions raised some soccer fans’ blood pressure.
Those who did not have the chance to watch the World Cup had to make-do with the right to ask for football results.
Imagine a suspect in a cell at a police post in the hood asking a police officer about the results of a game between France and Belgium.
Bwana! nibandani bana wina bola?” an inmate would ask a cop about the results of the game: “Officer, who won the game between France and Belgium?”
Of course, football unites people, I guess police officers had no option but to share soccer results with their inmates.
Ba France bana wina, but don’t forget ukali kudya binzi,” the cop would say, meaning “France won, but don’t forget you are still here in cells being fed on a daily meal of half-cooked beans only.”
Cops at police posts in the hood made sure that their office television sets which had stopped working were repaired ahead of the World Cup.
It won’t be surprising to learn that some TVs used to watch the World Cup in these places were actually exhibits in theft cases.
Yes, a television is a medium that gathers people, including cops, around common interests like soccer at the World Cup.
This is the time when you would hear a police officer telling a complainant to write a statement on his own because he is busy watching France versus Belgium.
Meanwhile, some soccer-loving suspects would be shouting from their cells to find out which team the cop is supporting.
Bwana! musapota team iti? An inmate would ask, meaning, “Officer, which team are you supporting?”
The police officer would respond: “Iwe, osanisokoneza. Uzadya binzi ibisi,” translated as “Don’t disturb me, you shall eat half-cooked beans.”
Obviously, those operating recovery vehicles at police posts at night in the hood provided company for the cops while watching the World Cup.
Just like football is a team sport, watching football as a group cemented bonds among many people in the hood.
You can’t blame some police officers working night shift at police posts who had to go out of their way to share soccer results with inmates.
Like I said, everyone enjoyed watching the World Cup in Russia. No wonder some patients preferred to go for injections at the clinic after Brazil exited the World Cup.
Apart from missing the action, the fear was that some soccer-loving nurses would leave a syringe planted in one’s buttock while they rushed to the reception to watch Neymar’s goal.
It’s astonishing what some people can do to capture every moment of the World Cup.
But the only one who had difficulty in capturing every moment of the game was the barman.
How can the barman watch football when every patron is shouting for service in a parked watering hole in the hood?
Whatever the case, the World Cup provided something to talk about away from the usual reviews of previous night’s drink-ups in the hood.

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