On the day of the Nigeria-Argentina match, Visa took us on a “Warm up” Tour. This means we would be right by the field watching our team warm up. We were given these simple instructions “Do not scream when you see your team. Do not wave at them. Do not shout instructions at them”.
First, I’m quite disciplined. I generally compose myself in public except of course I’m in a John Legend, Wizkid or Tuface concert. I’ll scream my head off and dance away. But, I needed to know what the consequence would be if my home training was suddenly seized by my village people in Nigeria. So I asked our Visa representative “what would happen if I screamed or talked to the players?”. He said to me “We’ll have to get you off the field”.
Ah! That would be bad for my reputation. What would I tell the DANG community? I told myself I must compose myself.
We got to the field, it was empty. So, I started chatting up a Nigerian photographer with an inspiring story (To be posted soon). I was so engrossed in the discussion with him I didn’t see when the Naija team trooped into the field but the sudden cheer from the crowd distracted me so I looked to the field to see what was causing the cheer, it was our dear Nigerian team, walking majestically into the field, chatting amongst themselves, smiling a little, looking confident.
If I wanted to stretch my hands to touch one of the players, I could. They were so close to us Nigerians and as they spread across the field to warm up, my inner self cautioned me: Breath Ife. Don’t scream. Don’t move. Don’t call names. Stay calm. My inner self cautioned.
I looked at the Visa representative standing behind me, said “I’m sorry” then shouted at the top of my voice, “Go boys. We love youuuuu. We’re rooting for youuuuu…. You can do thissss…” My voice went up a notch at every sentence. I heard the Visa representative laugh, I turned around to see him bent over in laughter.
“Am I in trouble?” I asked him sheepishly. When he recovered from his bout of laughter, he shook his head and said “No you’re not. Let’s go behind the net to see the goalkeepers practice.
Phew! I blame my My village people, they tried it!