Friday, September 28, 2007

Nipita versus Mazua

In my realization that football may be my way into the communities in the north of Mozambique, I accepted the invitation to drive 80 kilometers to the very small and poor community of Nipita (40 kilometers off Alua, on the Pemba-Namialo road, towards Memba. But that probably means nothing to anyone reading this…), on a national holiday, when the local lads were facing their counterparts of Mazua.

On a very uneven pitch of blood-red dirt, under a burning hot sun, the teams stood facing each other, a bit later than anticipated… Nipita, the home team, in old Benfica shirts, and Mazua, in a variation of Brazilian national team shirts: on their starting lineup I counted three Robinho’s, three Ronaldinho’s and four Ronaldo’s.

No wonder that the whole thing was confusing for the home-side Nipita’s defense…

Many players wore no shoes, but that seemed to make no difference as the game started with Nipita feverishly attacking the visiting side, and disappointingly not getting ahead on some huge chances. The home-spectators were grabbing their heads!

But as football often is with (the real) Ronaldo & Co.: on one single counterattack the Nipita defense was open wide, and Ronaldo surely made a goal (I decided to call this guy long-panted Ronaldo, since he was the more prominent of only two guys in long pants in the heat – the other was also a Ronaldo… Long-panted Ronaldo was also the best player of the match). The home audience protested loudly to the referee, some saying the ball had gone behind the wooden post marking the goal. But the referee was adamant, and correctly gave the goal to the visitors.

Here I saw that in spite of the differences, the poverty, lack of education, etc., all people in the world can agree that the referee sucks. Someone shouted (in Portuguese, although most people speak Makua): “take that analphabet referee off the pitch!!!”, which I found very amusing considering that 80 percent of the population in the area cannot read or write.

At least people demand something of their referees.

I have no idea if it was the pressure from the spectators, but after mere 20 minutes into the first half, and the away team being up 1 to 0, the referee called for half-time (!?). Protests then took on huge effect, as numerous people ran on the pitch, and all were discussing with the referee, who after a somewhat confusing circumstances was substituted for a new referee.

I think FIFA should learn from this: “let us change the referee when he sucks”.

The new referee continued where the first had left off, and after only a few minutes gave a completely non-existant penalty for the home-team.

This was when I realized that the away-team also had some fans among the spectators; the pitch was invaded by dissatisfied fans. After a heated argument with a spectator in a Kaká shirt (there were no player’s in Kaká shirts on the Mazua team), the referee then changed his mind to the home-spectators huge disappointment, although they remained completely calm - probably because there had been no shadow of a penalty at all.

I think referees elsewhere, too proud to change their minds, should learn from this.

A few minutes after all this happened, Mazua went ahead with a second goal, after a deadly run down the right side by long-panted Ronaldo.

The bare-footed left-hand defender of Nipita (although he was never there), had a hard time with long-panted Ronaldo, and at one point he was viciously tackled by the bare-footed defender. That was when I learned that the referee had no red or yellow cards. In any case, Mazua’s long-panted Ronaldo was accused of dragging out time, so a Nipita player kicked the ball away (?), way into the bush behind the pitch, and a horde of children were unable to find the ball, for which reason the match stopped for a while (someone did eventually find the official ball).

Unfortunately, as I didn’t want to drive home on the lousy back-roads after dark, I had to leave midway through the second half. However, I am sure there were no more goals, as especially Nipita, who had started with headless feverish attacks in the burning sun, seemed completely run down and barely able to run.

I would however would like to thank the people of Nipita, who I may be doubtful may ever read this (there is no electricity or phone coverage in Nipita), for this great match.

The passion of football is alive here, in an area so poor and isolated, as much as in any international capital of football.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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//Tubbe of Sweden