Having drunk from the same cup of knowledge and eaten from the same plates of course works, tests, and exams, it was prudent that we sum up the four-year Journalism and Communication program with a football match. When Albert, the Journalism class football captain suggested that we organise a team that would destroy the Communication team, I was more excited than a campus girl for whom a man-friend (read boyfriend) had bought Kasokoso Fried Chicken (KFC).
For starters, the last time I kicked a round thing was about a decade ago. Then, we had no goal posts with nets. Two stones, a distance between them measured by the number of feet, were our goal posts. That not only meant that the width of the stone goal ‘posts’ could easily be narrowed or widened by anyone including by-passers but also long balls were never counted as goals even when they passed in between the two stones. There were also no jerseys. One team had to play bare-chested. Boots were also outlawed because we all agreed they could injure-they were terrible things. Whenever we lost count of the goals (because we allowed no referees), we would begin afresh. We could democratically cancel goals such as if one ran through their opponent’s stone goal ‘posts’.
Fast forward to 2014 and I promise Albert I will play number nine and score a hatrick. Wednesday was the d-day. With a coursework deadline the next day, I seemed to have an excuse for not being part of the game; but that would be betrayal, the aunt of my heart told me. Samson, that expert in online media, encouraged me to for the game as he ordered for a fresh short from town, which he preferred to call a widget. He also assured me that he would be streaming balls live from his foot to mine, which I would then upload into the net. It is this internet-savvy-soft-spoken guy that I had jogged with as the girls at my hostel stared, admiringly at my bi-legs. The tactics during our training earned the name Ronaldo.
4pm and Sampaul, my former boss at the university newspaper calls to ask where the boys were. He also tells me he had no short but would play in jeans. The last time this NBS TV journalist kicked a ball was about half a decade ago and he was forced into the pitch just like some of his tribesmen are forcefully circumcised.
I head to the pitch and sauntering around Makerere College, my naked eyes tell my brains they have seen the chief guest retreating from the pitch. Is it in protest, I ask myself. He is on phone and seems to be solving a land wrangle back home or any other family problem. The wind is too helpless to me that it carries no word to my ears. By now I’m holding my heart in my hands, scared that the guest, my teacher, would ask me why I am late for the match. Thank the one who stays beyond the clouds. The teacher’s eyes seem to be the ones thinking and they can’t see me.
To the pitch and the game is ongoing. We are ‘two goals down’. Prisca and Jane are nevertheless cheering the journalism team. They chant and ululate. Gilbert, that communicator, clad in a bow-tie, is impersonating as a coach, never mind that he has no idea how many players make up a team. He’s feeling so important with Freda-the black beauty, Christine-the girl that will never miss a photo-shoot, Eve, that woman who never stops talking and of course Charlene, that lady who speaks and men listen. These are the two supporting sides, with Iryn, that woman who can forego lunch for the sake on holding a camera.
Here I am, uncomfortable in my short which is covered by my long trouser. I join the girls and goals continue to ‘drink’ into our net, most of them scored by the referee, Elly, that Abaasa guy, who came to the pitch in a suit as though this was the media dinner. This guy, from the communication class counted as goals, balls which passed over 60km away from the goal posts as well as those which scared birds as far as the cumulo-nimbus clouds. It was silly of me to expect a monkey to sentence a monkey to death for eating a puppy. This tall handsome guy (as some girls say) also allowed a mercenary, who the Journalism team supporters referred to a GMO-Genetically Modified Organism, to play for his class. They were right, the guy knows his ball. Nonetheless, the referee’s team seemed stronger. Bush and Lyaazi, who play for Mitchel hall. Hajji Hakim, who plays for the Uganda Muslim Football team. Kyabaggu, who plays for UNATU, Magonga, that comedian who plays for Mityana FC and then Kabunga who plays for the Pastors’ FC.
Our boys, from journalism were equally good. Kyeyune, the motor-mouthed politician-turned Radio Simba Journalist, ran the whole pitch hunting for the ball as though he was editing an audio. Sampaul handled the ball with care as though it was a camera, fearing to break it. Okwakol was as swift as though he was sifting through a website dashboard to the extent that he left the ball behind him. And then Albert, our Alibobo, was, just like news, everywhere on the pitch, commanding the teammates just like any other team captain. Riad, that Nasser Rd trader bargained with the balls as though they were customers. Kasozi, the former Bilal FM journalist, jumped like Besigye jumping off police vans, as he stopped goals from ‘drinking’ into the net. Only one goal ‘drank’. The others were 60km away from the goal posts though the ref counted them as valid. Oh! There was Franko, the class pastor who dreams of building a cathedral larger than Pastor Imelda Namutebi’s. He’d fasted for a win and little wonder this man of God who is taller than the Main Building scored the two goals for the Journalism team.
The ref finally remembered that he had a whistle. He picked it, blew air into it and the game ended. Two days later, the results have not been published, and what is next-a REMATCH. Till then, Kam Sam goes to find out what crocodiles eat.