The World Cup fever has caught up with nearly everyone, and it equally affects the football fans as well as those who have remote interest in football.
Some fans invest so much emotionally in the event to the extent of forming permanent enemies with other fans who support rival teams.
Fans can even become ill if the outcomes of the event do not go as per their expectations.
More dire consequences are likely to arise if you have placed a monetary bet and your team ends up getting thrashed. If you had raided the domestic budget to finance your betting habits, you are likely to land yourself in serious financial woes for the remainder of the year.
On the other hand, there are those of us who are quite ignorant on matters football, and we cannot connect with the thrill of adult men chasing a leather contraption across a big field for a whole 90 minutes.
It is no wonder that I belong in the latter category.
Although back in Karugo Group of Schools football was a favourite sport, I did not get the opportunity to be an active participant. I had a small frame and soft bones, and those were not exactly the cut-off qualifications for a football player.
The only reason I liked football is because the inter-class matches always coincided with the double maths lesson. I would have given anything in the world to miss that lesson that ran from mid-morning to lunchtime, including conveniently falling sick.
During inter-school competitions, all of us would be given a day off to go and cheer our team in the neighbouring school, and this was our equivalent of an overseas trip away from the hustle and bustle of school life.
You could not qualify to be in the first eleven team if you didn’t have a huge physical frame and legs as hard as wrought iron. The team was therefore reserved for the bigger boys who had repeated classes multiple times and they had grown into their late teens while still in primary school.
There were no football boots and the players’ rough feet acted as boots. Over time, the more experienced players developed very rough and heavily scarred feet that could probably split wood. Such hardened players were reserved as the full backs.
Any striker from the opposing team knew that they risked ending up with multiple leg injuries if they ran into the path of the menacing defender of the cast iron legs fame.
The football game itself was not for the faint-hearted. Our playing field seemed to have been carved out of the sloping side of the school compound.
Playing in our football field was equivalent to playing along Valley Road or Museum Hill. The pitch was so curved that the two opposing goalkeepers could not see each other from their respective turfs.
Someone had to keep updating the goalkeepers of the ongoing at the other end of the pitch. They also relied on the cheerleaders to know if a goal had been scored in the opposite side of the pitch.
As a result, the goalkeepers had to exercise an extra level of vigilance. The opposing striker seemed to emerge from the brow of a hill, and if the goalkeeper was not alert, the striker would come careening down the hill and score a mighty goal.
The key game strategy was to ensure that your team scored as many goals as possible when playing downhill.
When playing downhill, you were heavily assisted by the gravitational force, and sometimes a free ball could easily roll by itself into the goalpost if left unattended, leading to acrimonious protests.
Playing uphill on the other hand was as difficult as climbing to the summit of a mountain multiple times. Your team was highly unlikely to score a goal when playing uphill.
The girls were not left behind in the whole fanfare. They were also part of the cheering squad. Because some of the girls were also grown-up and almost of dating age, all the good football players seemed to earn their favour.
After a tough match, the outstanding football stars would be surrounded by the village beauties while the rest of us, who didn’t boast of any extraordinary sporting capabilities, swallowed saliva.
Next time there is a transfer window for teams to buy players at exorbitant prices, they should come poaching from my village where the players with hardened feet are still waiting to be spotted.