sudan news record

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Football Sudan style

By Nyambura Wambugu BBC Sport
A Sudanese schoolboy dons a David Beckham shirt ready for a match
Every Sunday afternoon at around 4 o'clock the village of Narus in southern Sudan becomes gripped with football fever.
But unlike most of the rest of Africa the excitement does not surround a local league game or even an English premiership match on the TV.
Instead the villagers are gather at the local football field to watch a match between Comboni school and St Bakita school.
The Sunday clash has become a ritual and a must-see event for both the young and the old.
In this part of the world, there is no electricity, radio or any form of modern technology to keep the locals busy.
So the Sunday football match is the only form of entertainment and emotional release for locals.
The boys take to the dusty field to wild cheers, the players do not have matching kits instead they wear various jerseys from different clubs and countries from around the world.
And even the ball, that at first glance seems like a normal football, is not quite what it seems and is homemade from a balloon wrapped in surgical bandage.

The Sudanese villagers have to use a homemade ball
Despite the improvised ball, the hot, dry and dusty conditions for the next 90 minutes the bare-foot boys show case their talent, skills and energy.
When the final whistle blows each week the winners go away to bask in a week of glory while the losers are left with one option: to wait until next Sunday.
But what motivates the boys?
"I watched the World Cup while I was at the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya in 2002 and I liked the game very much," says 17 year old Simon Rachu.
"When I came back to the Sudan, I came to school and found boys who were also in the camp and we all talked of football and a teacher helped us start a team."
For these boys football is their only diversion from the everyday realities of living in a civil war.
19-year-old Surach Mohammed tells me of his dreams of playing outside Sudan and even maybe at the World Cup.
He has such dreams despite never having seen another football match apart from the weekly game he takes part in.
With the 21 year old Sudanese conflict seemingly coming to an end the boys have high hopes that sports will soon take root in a country where it has taken the back seat in recent years.


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