A Day with a Football Legend
That day, I woke up early feeling rejuvenated like never before. I was going to meet one of my football icons and role models: Ronaldinho. It had finally come to pass despite the rumours spreading around that it was a hoax. Rarely did we get the opportunity to be graced by football greats and legends and this was a once in a lifetime opportunity that could not be squandered.
Ronaldinho, a well decorated football legend who had won many accolades, was going to launch his football foundation academy. This was part of his noble efforts of Corporate Social Responsibility in Africa and Kenya was fortunate enough to have been chosen as his investment destination. First, he was going to visit the children’s home in Mathare slums where he would donate food items, books, clothing and sporting gear for the needy children. He would then meet Football Kenya Federation (FKF) officials to discuss the state of Kenyan football in general before heading to the Nyayo National Stadium later to participate in the match between Kajiado Youths and Nairobi Rising Stars and also give a motivational speech.
It was definitely going to be a busy day and considering the magnitude of the occasion, I could not afford to miss. Already, the city was thronging with people from far and wide as early as eight in the morning eager to catch a glimpse of the icon. Outside the stadium, traffic was at a standstill. The police deployed had a hectic time restoring order. Hawkers had taken advantage of the situation and were reaping big. Business was booming.
Inside the stadium, a crowd of fans had filled the stands and were downing the number ten Brazilian and Barcelona jerseys with Ronaldinho’s name printed on the back. Screams and jubilations rent the air as they sang songs of praise for the Icon. It was a site to behold. Football emotions always sent shivers of happiness down my spine and I could not hold it. As players of both teams emerged from the dock clad in red and blue jerseys for Kajiado Youth and Nairobi Rising Stars respectively, I found myself screaming my lungs out with joy.
Immediately the players had paraded in front of the match officials, a helicopter ferrying the legend pierced through the air in a perfectly choreographed sequence and made circles in the air before landing on the pitch. The legend alighted from the helicopter with his entourage accompanied by the FKF president Nick Mwendwa all wearing Ronaldinho’s jerseys and waved to the crowd of fans shouting his name. They proceeded to join the teams lining up and shook their hands before heading straight to make a speech at the podium at the centre of the pitch. His story though short, was that of a young man who had endured pain and suffering at a tender age while growing up. He was born and raised in poverty and his parents could hardly make ends meet. Eventually, he took to the streets and it was while there that his talent was noticed by a coach who took him in and natured his talent. His skills improved day by day and the rest is history. The story was so moving that it left many in tears. Many youths in Africa were undergoing the same situation and this is what had motivated him to give back to the society.
After concluding his speech and receiving a standing ovation, the match finally kicked off and he was given the number ten position in the Nairobi Raising Stars team. The fans were left bewildered at how good he was with the ball despite his old age. He displayed amazing dribbling skills and was dextrous on the ball. His passing ability while looking in the other direction was quite intriguing. He was eventually substituted as the match wore on and received applause from the crowd with his team leading three goals to nil by the eightieth minute.
Actually, the occasion had lived to its billing. Everyone left the stadium happy and satisfied including me. We had been entertained and educated at the same time. Indeed, it was a day well spent.