Monday, August 16, 2010

Football Tie

Jamie has been laboring to get a women's football team going for awhile and
it finally came together. A few practices, some trash talk, and some fresh
jerseys later and there was a match set. It would be the teachers versus the
senior girls. As an outsider, and someone who has watched a good portion of
Jamie's football career from the sidelines, it was awesome to watch a team
of women who have never, or very rarely played the sport become something
over the course of a few short weeks. Most of the practices consisted of
balls flying all over the place and women laying on the ground because they
were laughing too hard, but it started to come together and what errors
there were could eventually be blamed mostly on the undulating, rubble
strewn, heaving and hole-ridden field. And they were having a ton of fun.
When it came time for the game all the regulars were in attendance from
practice. Some bowed out from the pressure, content to watch from the
sidelines and point and laugh. Others came out of nowhere, none of us having
met them before, and came to show their talent. Both teams took to the
field, the ref bringing the whistle to his lips for the match kickoff. With
a shrill blast the game began, and three weeks of practice went down the
toilet as 22 women and girls bee-lined for the ball.
But despite those first few moments, the game was incredibly fun to watch
and the crowd grew as the minutes passed. Students were skrieking and
laughing at seeing their teacher play football. The senior girls were
getting more and more intense as time went by as they realized that their
garaunteed victory wasn't going to be as easy as they thought. A bad pass
sent a bouncing ball over the teachers' goaltender's head (not her fault as
she is 5'3") and as the game wore on it looked liked the students would win.
But a late shot towards the students' net was blocked by a handball which
meant a penalty kick. And this was the most awesome thing to see, because as
the whistle blew and everyone saw the handball, the entire crowd streaked
from the sidelines to stand around the penalty area and watch the kick. And
in that mad rush, you could hear one name repeating itself in the Luganda
chatter... "Jamie." Everyone was expecting Jamie to take the penalty shot,
and this in the last dying minute of the game. No way Jamie could get outta
this one.
She'd later say how terrified she was she would miss it. She couldn't even
listen to me gloat about how awesome it was hours after the match. But no
fear showed in the moment as she booted the ball past a Patrick Roy-clad
goaltender to tie the game at one, crushing the victory hopes of the
students, elating the teachers, becoming the hero of the day for the throngs
of crazy fans and students lining the penalty box in that moment. Overall, a
huge victory for women's football, and a moment I'm pretty confident will
live on in Kibaale infamy for a long time to come.
Or at least in our house.