I recently started following the English Premier League, and I have found that it is truly amazing to feel the passion of it all if you let yourself get sucked in to the contagious atmosphere, watching out for upcoming matches, Summer transfers, checking up on your team’s performance on the League Table, and being interested in so many other things you never thought you would ever be interested in.
If you knew me growing up, you would understand why this is such a new experience.
Growing up, there was absolutely no football passion in our home. If my brother ever played any football, I did not know it. In his teenage years, he was more interested in the martial arts. My Dad, the only other male in the house, did not reminisce about playing football in his youth. He occasionally talked about his cousin, my Uncle ‘Deremi that was the goalkeeper for Osogbo Grammar School in the late 50s, and that was it. I realize now that myopia in his eyes must have made him a poor choice for football in his high school days.
On the other hand, I was rather chubby in my primary school days. Scratch that. I am still rather chubby. And running for 90 minutes around a football I would never see till it hit me was not much fun at all. With all the sweating, and the panting, and the turning around on one spot to find a good target to pass to, it became obvious very quickly that if you need to win that match of 5-a-side, you better pick someone that sees much better than Aanu. I did not miss the panting.
I gladly settled down to devour the many books that were always within reach.
In fact, I proudly say it these days that I can easily count the number of times I have played football in my life. On my ten fingers. And I will still have some fingers left.
So it will be strange for my siblings to hear now that I know what teams are playing this coming weekend in the stadia spread across England. I know what teams played last weekend, and what the scores are for the more popular teams. I know how much Arsenal paid to buy Ozil from Real Madrid this last summer. It may seem minor, but among my friends, I have somewhat moved from behind the book to become an active contributor to football debates. Of course I can’t yet join in on the merits or not, of having someone play Left Fullback. What’s the point? Left fullback? I’m yet to get to that class. But I know a good goal when I see one!
So my new passion led to me to read a pre-match preview of Arsenal’s upcoming match. Against West Brom. Let me quote a part of it.
“…Arsenal have won their last eight Barclays Premier League away games in a row, equalling their best run in the competition.
The Gunners have scored a league-high four goals in the opening 15 minutes of Barclays Premier League games this season.
Arsenal have scored the first goal of the game in each of their six Premier League games this season.
Arsene Wenger’s side have made a league-high tally of 12 through-balls in the Premier League this season.
No side has seen their opponents booked (15) or sent off (1) more often than Arsenal in the PL this season.
No player has attempted more tackles in the Premier League this season than in-form Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey (33).
Ramsey has scored in three successive Premier League appearances (four goals) for the first time in his career. He has scored eight goals in his last nine games for Arsenal in all comps.”
And I dare say that even if you do not understand a word of football lingo, the point has been made to West Brom….and it is screaming very loudly:
“YOUR ENEMY IS IN SUPERB FORM”
Immediately, I began to feel very sorry for West Brom, a very good team in their own right.
But should I?
Should I feel sorry for David that Goliath has been a warrior since his youth, and he is in superb form?
Should I feel sorry for the Israelites that Pharaoh is hot on their heels, with his chariots and all his army?
Should I feel sorry for Elisha when a whole army of Syria has surrounded him at dawn in Dothan?
Perhaps David has something that the bookmakers are not aware of.
Perhaps, a sea is about to part for the children of Israel to pass through, and the same sea will close back like a curtain to kill Pharaoh.
Perhaps, those that are with Elisha and his servant are indeed more than those against him, invisible though they may be.
Perhaps, for me, a breakthrough is hatching, and I was only looking at the enemy’s superb form.
Perhaps, for you, someone has already ordered a much needed -but unexpected- gift.
Perhaps, for you, there is a letter already in the mail. A promotion you thought was lost.
I reckon it will benefit West Brom immensely not to listen to the enemy’s commentary, and look within to find all the strength and skill they can muster. It will be good for West Brom not to mind the chatter, but believe that there is a victory ahead for them, then play their hearts out, skillfully.
Like David, and Moses, and Elisha, and me. Just boldly declare…
“When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.” (Isahah 59:19)
No matter his form.