Football. The one thing that has the power to unite people from all walks of life. The feeling of unity in a viewing centre, especially when its a match between Nigeria and some other country, is so palpable that you can almost touch it. Don’t tell me you experience the feeling while watching alone in your sitting room; nah…unless you are some demon-possessed guy named Legion.😂😂
It is no longer news that Nigeria is out of the World Cup, but while we were still in, Nigerians had some fun. Nigeria played her last match in the World Cup against Argentina before we had to leave. Now, you cannot understand how important that match was for us, unless you are Nigerian or have followed our history with Argentina in World Cup matches. On Tuesday, before this match began, I was in church with some brethren. Impatience was written over many people’s faces, as we could not wait to go watch our boys play. As soon as the closing prayers were said, church cleared and everyone went to watch the match. Even though we lost that match, I had so much fun!
There is a LOT of drama wherever football matches are watched. Different characters are displayed by different people, and it makes the match all the more interesting. I think this is a major reason why Nigerian men like to go watch matches outside their homes with other men. From our last match against Argentina, I was able to identify different kinds of people in viewing centres.
•THE FOOTBALL GURUS
These ones know the history of football from A to Z, and will flaunt it. They are always quoting football history from memory, telling no one in particular when so and so started playing, what year he got the highest number of red cards, what year he had a hamstring injury, what year a certain stadium was built…yada yada yada. They can be interesting to listen to, until they forget that they should shut up at some point. Then they begin to sound annoying. However, because they are almost always correct when they say stuff, people respect them enough not to shut them up. But they have a sub group…
🙌🙌 I just have to salute these ones, because of the boldness with which they spout rubbish. They would like to one day be like the football gurus, with a wide expanse of knowledge about football, but they are not willing to get knowledge from the right source. They will rather listen to people talk, and repeat it elsewhere, with bits missing, but with confidence all the same, as if it is their own words. “Kini! Don’t you know how long Wenger coached Arsenal?” And when someone asks how many years, they’ll say something like, “I can’t really recall now. But is it not like 60 years?” They will only be shut up by another group of people…
They are the ones who shut people up with sarcastic comments such as, “Hmmn! Baba o! How do you know? Did you and Arsene Wenger grow up on the same street? How old is Arsene Wenger sef, that he would have coached Arsenal for 60 years?” The Sarcastics do not talk too much, all they do is to wait for people to make blunders, and then put them on the spot for it. They help to reduce the number of Oversabi people.
•THE FAMILIAR SPIRITS
I call them familiar spirits because they just love to act like they are familiar with every other player they see on the screen. A player is shown, and they suddenly jump up to their feet, clapping and yelling, “Ah! See my guy! Omo mi, Messi! Lionel Messi! Messi!” as if they went to the same nursery school and usually shared lunch at break. They call out full names of players just to show that they know it; they are very similar to the Oversabi guys.
•THE ASSISTANT COACHES
You already know them. They surpass the original coach in the way they shout instructions. “Moses, shoot! Slide it to the side! Gbefun! What kind of rubbish play is that?” They criticise almost every move, forgetting that it’s easier to watch and make corrections than to be the one actually playing. Again, the Sarcastics help to shut these guys up by saying things like, “Why don’t you go play it, since you are better?”
•THE PROPHETS/ PREDICTORS
You find them yelling predictions in the viewing centre. “Na 2-1 we go play, you go see am.” When people get tense about the match, the prophet stands up to calm everyone down. “No worry! I don tell you say na 2-1 we go play. Calm down you people! We no go lose.” Their confidence is either from having prayed and believed God for a win, or silent prayers that their stakes on a bet will not go up in flames. 😁
Especially when it is a Nigerian match, these set of people will say things like, “Don’t bother getting your hopes up. We will lose this thing.” They watch halfheartedly, trying to avoid disappointment. They can leave halfway into the match, especially when the opposing team scores; defeat already written on their faces. And if the match does end on a sad note, they will say with a look of triumph, “I knew it. Thank God I didn’t waste my time watching the nonsense match.”
😆 These ones scream! Every time! In high pitched tones like a banshee. “Yeeeeeeeee!” “Ahhhhhhh!” They raise alarm every time the ball goes towards Nigeria’s goalpost. They just can’t bear the tension of a likely goal against us, so they scream their hearts out. When its time for a penalty shot too, they scream. These people spread tension to everyone else, but can also be causes of laughter among the rest of the audience. They also sometimes elicit random bursts of anger from the Sarcastics or everybody else for that matter. “Shut up na! Why you dey scream like ogbanje*! Abeg, shut up make we hear!”
•THE OCCASIONAL GIRL
This can be the girl who actually loves football, and does not mind getting stares from the men who wonder what she has come to do in such a place that is mostly frequented by men. In other instances, she could be drawn to the viewing centre by the fact that Nigeria is the one playing, she has no business with other teams or their matches. She could also be the one who is “twinning” with her bae, wearing matching jerseys, just for the fun of it. Or yet still, she could be the girl who asks exasperating questions like, “Why did the referee press air freshener on the grass? What is offside? Is this Nigeria versus Chelsea?” and draws frustrated hisses from the men, or comments such as “Aunty, why you no siddon* for your house to watch Telemundo? Why you come dey disturb us with foolish question? No be only Nigeria versus Chelsea; na Shooting Stars versus Madrid.”
They will gladly curse anyone who does not satisfy them; be it a player, a coach, the ref, or even a spectator. “Na thunder go fire this ref o! Why won’t he punish that player?…What is this one playing? Is he unfortunate?…Why this mumu dey smile for camera? We dey lose, you dey smile. Abeg comot! Monkey!”
All of these characters are the ones who make a match at a viewing centre so much fun! By the time the match is over, you would have had so much fun, as having gone for a comedy show. Which one of these categories do you belong to? Do you belong in a separate category that I didn’t mention? Please tell me about it, I would love to know more!
*ogbanje: Common Nigerian parlance for evil spirit.
*siddon: Pidgin English for Sit down.