Saturday, November 18, 2006

Team USA vs. Team Burkina

Okay, so right now I should be studying for a French Oral Exam that I have in an hour, but instead I decided to write this blog entry…yeah, that’s right, I am throwing caution to the wind…French level be damned! Anyway, I promised to tell you all about the famous Youba soccer match, and I couldn’t leave you waiting now could I.

So, every Wednesday we have been playing soccer against a local girls team here in Ouahigouya. It has been very interesting getting schooled by girls playing in bare feet and sandals…I have quite enjoyed it—although surprisingly we have tied them each time. Well, word of our athletic prowess spread rather quickly through Burkina and we were challenged to a “real” soccer match in a small village about 15k outside of the city. So, being that Peace Corps never turns down a challenge, we headed out in vans to play the infamous men’s team. I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I signed up to go out there, and I have to say that I was shocked. Youba is a small village consisting of maybe 2000 people—pretty much all of which showed up for the game.

Our opponents were 15-20 year old boys…a bit more formidable than the 12-17 year old girls that we had been playing. I had thought that it was merely a small scrimmage, but we arrived to quite a fanfare. I have never in my life seen so many children in one place at one time…I felt like The Beatles, N’Sync, and New Kids on the Block rolled into one. Oh yeah baby! I am a celebrity here…hahaha! I can’t take all the credit…all you have to do is be white and you’re a celebrity here. Anyhoo, back to the story. So, upon arrival we were issued uniforms! I couldn’t believe it…we donned “Nick & Stef’s Garage Service” jerseys…who knows who Nick and Stef are, where their garage is, or how in the hell they got sponsored shirts to Africa…but it was fun all the same. We finally make it to the field, which is a spectacle of its own. The field is ENTIRELY surrounded by people, rows and rows deeps. Everyone is cheering! The community pooled money together to line the soccer field with white rocks, and they had even cleaned the rocks off the field…it was a pretty sweet deal. There was still a gigantic baobob tree at half field (that interfered with the game several times, but luckily I never ran into), and the field was covered in goat poo…but to them it was like an Olympic Stadium, and for a little while it felt like that to me too. We even had a half-time show…well, okay, it wasn’t a half-time show exactly, it was just a stampede of goats on the field, but come on…use your imagination...this is Africa after all!

We played 40 minute halves and truly were outmatched, but I have never had so much fun playing soccer. We slipped and slip and tripped and fell…and I had a blast. We lost 3-1, but in the end the score didn’t even matter. The entire town showed up and they were so happy and honored that we had all come out. It was amazing…you can make SO MUCH out of SO LITTLE when you want to! What was really a crummy scrimmage in the middle of nowhere, was actually an Olympic game of Team USA/PCV vs. Burkina Faso/Youba. There is almost no way to describe it! Hopefully I will have some pictures posted soon, for now I will post a picture that I took while we were pulling away at the end of the game. The vans were mobbed by about 200 kids and I had to snap a picture…I don’t know if it even captures the madness, but I thought I would post it anyway.

Take a nice sip of ice water for me!

Also, a HUGE thanks to those of you that sent me packages (Mom, Dave/Lindz/Drew, Mike/Julie/Nancy--I didn't call you Mrs. Kaplan this time!, and Jonny!! I can not tell you how much it brightened up my day! I loved it so THANK YOU!! Now, I didn't mention this as an endorsement to send me packages (although if you do I promise to mention you on my blog...hahaha). Just kidding...truly, letters are just as good, sometimes lets keep 'em comin! Thanks to everyone for their support...I just want you all to know that I appreciate it!


Don said...

I started reading your blog and have been reliving my past. I was a PCV in Burkina (was then called Upper Volta) from 1978-80. It seems that live there has not changed much even though there have been major technological advancements. The Burkinabe were the poorest but happiest people I ever met. I hope you enjoy yourself there and learn about their country, our country and yourself. See you in your blog

Don said...

I forgot to mention that my stage in Kaya also played some local boys/men. The field was similar to your game field without the tree. Unfortunately our score was not as close as yours as they blew us out. Our game was just a pick up game so I am not sure we played any all-stars but just the local kids.
Our training was just 4 weeks, mostly french and some cross cultural. Our group consisted of foresters and two geologists of which I was one.
Enjoy Burkina as it changed my life and will always be one of the best decisions in my life.