I need to start off with a disclaimer: I don't play football (soccer) at home. Last and only time I played organized soccer was in grade 7.
With that, time to begin my story.
Stanley decided to give us a kiswahili lesson then take me to play some soccer with some of his friends. It's about a 5-10 minute walk from here, so I said, hey why not. A pick up game of soccer on a Saturday afternoon sounded like a good idea. Get to meet a lot of new people and get some exercise.
First problem I noticed when I got there was that they were doing drills. Then I saw a coach. Then I remembered that Stanley told me they play everyday at 4pm. This was a for real team, with for real players, playing for real.
Next big problem was our warmup. I used to run 400s, and only used to have a 400m (one lap) warmup jog. Here I was running 4 times around the field (dirt field). Had to navigate around goats and children, but I survived.
Next big big problem was they played with two balls. K, soccer with two balls. Imagine all the running you do with one, and multiply that by two.
And with the intensity they were playing with, you would think it was a World Cup Final.
With their kind of passion for the game, if Nike or some other big sponsor came to Mwanza, built them a field and gave them all the equipment they needed, these guys would be a serious serious force. You can't buy skill, passion, and intensity, but you can only go so far without the right finances. (Canadians take note of how hard people work with nothing. I've never seen or heard of kids playing ice hockey with knifes tied to the bottom of their running shoes)
Good news is I survived - injury free. I'm sore like I just did a September Clifford-style mega 2s workout, but I'm feeling good about yesterday and glad that I stepped out of my comfort zone again (see Fear Factor post) and got to meet some new Tanzanians. Not as me trying to help or do some kind of NGO work, but just as a regular guy that they showed their superiority and dominance over me.
Not sure when, or if, I'll be playing again.