It’s not too late to learn some new things in life, is it? They say it is impossible to teach an old dog new tricks but, I beg to differ. Not that I’m old. In fact I’m not planning to be either. Maybe that’s the reason I could accomplish this.
There are a myriad sports in the world today and knowledge of all of them is nearly impossible unless you are entirely dedicated to learning them. It could be easier to explain about football, simply because many people imagine that it is easy, fast, it’s action oriented, you know when someone wins and you feel the passion among the players as well as the fans. If you have attended a Gor Mahia versus AFC Leopards game, you know what I am talking about.
Last Sunday, I had all intention of staying indoors after church, so that I could grab some more sleep. I feel sleep-deprived for the past two months. I don’t have many deadlines to beat now, so a girl is allowed to have an afternoon nap, right? But before the plan could materialize, I receive an invite to attend the Kabeberi Rugby Seven’s. For a moment there, I thought, do I really want to forgo my sleep for rugby? A game that I understand zero about? All I see people do is grab the ball, run with it and get hurt and I go like “ouchhhhhhhhhhh, that hurts!” I can almost feel the crunch.
“I think I should attend, just for fun, but this time round, to learn a little about the game,” I thought.
I have attended a rugby game before, accompanied by one of my girlfriends. We literally spent the whole afternoon, catching up because it had been a long time since we did. That’s all we did.
So last Sunday became by second time to attend a rugby match. “ Mmmmh, you are actually attending rugby match Patience, now that is news. I love the influence this man has on you. I have never thought about you being at a rugby match, ever, good stuff,” remarked one of my friends as we left church on Sunday afternoon.
Of course he was wrong, but I didn’t want to explain a thing. The truth is, this man, (who is said to have had an influence on me), and I received an invite from Safaricom and we opted to spend our afternoon at the Nairobi Railways Club in Nairobi.
The club was a beehive of activity when we arrived. There was pomp and a colorful mood and people selling and hawking all sorts of things. Our first encounter was the face painting and rugby accessory-selling guys. They insisted on painting flags on our skin in the spirit of patriotism. We agreed and I ended up with a flag on my face. We also bought ourselves matching hats. That was some fun!
Then, we made our way into the arena. Some friends were already in and we did a little catching up. This didn’t last long because on this day, I was determined to go home with some rugby 101s. I also did spot my former PE lecturer from Daystar University, Maurice Masiga strolling around. I was determined to say hi, but again, it’s been almost seven years since I left campus and clearly he wouldn’t remember me. He used to have a “tweng” when we were in school, so I really wanted to hear if the “tweng” is still there, but…….I convinced myself that it wasn’t so important. So I got back to the business of the day; learning what Rugby is all about. Just to let you know, I had tried to ‘google’ it on my way there.
My boyfriend had convinced me that he knows a lot about rugby. He says, he used to play the game when he was younger, until he hurt his back and stopped. I believe him. Of course now he is now a little old and maybe lazy, so never mind that I was still convinced that he was way better than me.
So ours becomes a classroom setting, him being my teacher and I as a class one pupil. That way, I am allowed to ask all the blonde questions. And he answers almost all the questions, including, “So why do they run then put the ball down at the end of the pitch and why do they have to roll over each other?” Some of his friends have joined us and this question makes people turn around and laugh. But I don’t care. Do I look like I care? No, not at all. I am definitely better off than many of the spectators. At least, now I know what a try is, and once a team gets a try, then it has to be converted. You see, now you have an idea of what I am talking about.
While I am on a learning experience, what are the rest of the people doing? The ground is filled to the brim but, it is evident that only half of those attending are following the game. There are lots of things happening on these grounds. For many, it’s a family opportunity to go out together on a boring afternoon. Others are on curious missions. I pose a question to one girl and this was her reply: “I hear that during rugby matches, you can get one of the very handsome boyfriends and who knows, he might just turn out to be a husband. I am searching for a man; I have no idea what the game is all about and I don’t think I really want to understand it much.”
I think she represents a number of women attending the game, some of whom look like they have been paid to dress skimpily. Looking around, I am concerned at the growing number of women drinking booze and the many who finally get terribly drunk as the day comes to a close. It doesn’t help that alcohol stalls were packed all the time. There was lots of nyama choma too. They say it goes down well with a bottle of Tusker.
There’s a lot of entertainment going on and Safaricom’s tv publicity icon famous for the mazgwembe mazgwembe tv ads is flexing his muscles. With him are Safaricom models driving a raffle competition for their data segment. They entice us to pose with mazgwembe as they take photos. We come to understand that these will be uploaded onto the Safaricom 7’s series website so that people can get their friends to vote for them for an opportunity to attend one of the IRB 7s circuit games happening around the world. (This is where I request you to do me a favour by clicking my picture and liking it. You just might be the reason I will visit an international destination to watch international rugby. Thanks in advance.)
I am learning and observing people around. I realize since I do not know much about the game, I am not able to tell between lies and the truth. But yes, I figure it out when one of the guys standing close to me corrects the two men who have been my teachers all along. “Hey, that’s not true” and he goes ahead to explain the correct version. You see, sometime people can prey on your ignorance. But of course there is always an explanation for any wrong information, and this came promptly from the ‘wrong’ parties.
Then, I realize it is now time to go home. But, first I head to the temporary/mobile wash rooms. To say the least, I was disappointed. I hope that next time the gents and ladies toilets will be labeled. It is so disgusting to get in and realize that the men have sprinkled their urine on the toilet seats and messed up them up and there is not enough tissue paper to wipe the seats. I am sure it was the men because they were the ones waiting outside all the time and seeing as there was so much boozing and so many of the consumers being them, I think I made a logical conclusion.
Realizing I couldn’t get cleaner washrooms, I opted to go home.
I witnessed the rugby players score and lose. I also understood a bit of the nitty-gritty of the game and can now comfortably say I know at least 10% of what rugby is about.
Even with the painful falls and excruciating punches. It was still a great afternoon worth more than my afternoon nap! Do you remember your first experience at the rugby match? Please share with me.