Monday, April 18, 2011

1 step forward, 10 steps back.

Just when we thought things we moving ahead and going so well with the league, we took a big jump backwards yesterday. It wasn't just a step or two back, it felt like we moved back 10 or 20 steps if you know what I mean. 

Yesterday was the semi-finals for the league. Our team was playing and was doing great. Our boys are extremely strong and tough to beat. We had scored 2 great goals going into the second half. Everything was going great. LOTS of people came out to watch. The sidelines were full. There was excitement. The weather was perfect. Everything was going great. 

Until the other team scored. 

One of the other team's players had knocked our goalie in the jaw and then scored. The goalie didn't think that was very fair as he had obstructed him from protecting the net. Our goalie ran to the ref trying to plead his case. Ok, not plead. I guess he came to yell at the ref for making a bad call. The ref stuck to his guns and called it a goal. Then I guess one of the other team's players said something cheeky to our goalie. Our goalie then lifted his arm and punched him to the ground. The boy went down hard. Not a good move on our goalie's part. We accept that. 

However, when you hit a player from the other team, you are not just hitting the one guy. You are giving a big punch to his supporters. All of a sudden, their supports ran onto the field and started beating at our boys. Soon almost all the spectators were on the field almost starting to fight. 

I don't understand Kenyans sometimes. When they see danger, they run to it. When they see a fight, they run to join in whether or not they even are apart of it. It's called Mob Mentality and Kenyans are known for it. 

Our security guys did a good job of making sure that the fighting didn't go too far. No one was seriously injured. Our poor goalie got stuck in the middle of it (even though he did start it. we are not overlooking his blunder) but he got beaten by some of the supporters. He dragged himself off the field and collapsed to the ground with tears strolling down his cheeks. I am not sure what he was feeling. I don't know if he was angry with himself or with the other team. I don't know if he was embarrassed or upset that he was beaten. I don't know. 

So everyone calmed down and the ref decided NOT to give him a red card since the supporters of the other team had run onto the field. Our goalie picked himself up and went out again. 

No more than a few minutes later, the ref made another call that the crowd was not happy with. So one of the team members of the other team came up and hit him in the head. The ref through his hands up to signify that he is done with this game and the whole place erupted into chaos again. Again, everyone ran TO the fighting and not AWAY from the fighting. 

It just went down hill from there. Emotions were running high. Those involved were angry to the bone. Our boys handled it extremely well. They held onto each other and walked off the field together as a team. But the supporters continued to make a big fuss. Kelvin was angry. He was angry it went so far and that they couldn't control themselves. They ruined a perfectly good game. 

After sometime, things calmed down. Kelvin was furious as we left the pitch. The boys left quietly, none of them seemed to have been too disturbed. As soon as we left, we got phone calls asking if we were ok. 

We got home and talked over everything. I learned a lot about the people in this community. This community is rough to the core. I learned that a lot of the teams represent different areas of the slum. So people who live in the area are often loyal to the team in their area hence why the supporters took it so personally when our goalie hit the boy to the ground. I learned that people deal with huge issues on a daily basis and sometimes all their anger and bitterness comes out on the pitch. I was told that our goalie was attacked about a year ago while walking home one day. He was hit in the jaw and lost about 6 teeth and spent a week in the hospital. After knowing this, I knew why he was so upset when the other team hit him in the jaw. Its a sensitive thing for him. 

Oy, these people need Jesus. 

So today Kelvin has gone to check up on the people especially our goalie. I have a HUGE heart for him.  We are hoping to get him into a school soon so that he can get himself a future and get out of the pressures of the slum. Kelvin is also going to see his committee, some of his players and the other team to see how to move forward. Technically we won the game but the game was cut short so some people wanted a rematch. If they insist on a rematch, we will consider taking the game out of the community for the security of our boys. If they agree that we won, then we will be playing in the finals next weekend. 

So we need prayers. Desperately. I think yesterday it hit me hard again how tough this community really is and how deep the needs are. Pray for safety for us and the boys. Pray that we would be able to really build up our boys to be God fearing men in this community. 

This is the garbage pile that constantly burns behind the pitch. You can see the backs of the boys who are standing on the sidelines. 

Kelvin giving the boys some words of wisdom at the sidelines. 

One of our players, Jimmy. 

Kelvin talking to our boys at half time. One thing I don't like is that when it's half time, the entire crowd comes to try and give the boys advice. They gather around and start trying to coach them. It bugs Kelvin too but that's how it works here. 

The crowd was huge. This is just one of the sidelines. They were all full. I am thanking God that there wasn't more violence. It had the potential to be much worse. 

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