When I kicked off this series as part of the 2016 A to Z Challenge (which is taking a month longer to complete than it should), I mentioned in the opening post that Ethiopians love their soccer.
So when a kid comes up to you and asks you to play soccer, you play soccer. It doesn’t matter if you’re wearing your guard uniform or still working the front desk. If a kid asks you to play, you play. And that’s what happened one afternoon in the courtyard of our guesthouse. It was a pickup soccer game that I never thought I’d experience.
Of course Weldu’s friends love playing soccer. Several times a week, they’d play a pick-up game in a nearby alley in the shadow of some building construction. Two things I hope you notice…
- Note the scaffolding on the building in the background. It looks crazy, but I’m assuming it’s more sturdy than it looks to me.
- You see those two rocks stacked on top of each other? That’s one of the goalposts. The other is behind them.
I didn’t grow up a soccer fan. I played one season in fourth or fifth grade (maybe sixth – I honestly don’t remember). I was not very good. And I never really showed much interest in the sport, other than the occasional World Cup game. That’s changed since Weldu has come home with us. It turns out both of us have a lot to learn. Playing an organized soccer game on an official pitch is quite different from the pickup games that he’s used to in Ethiopia. But that hasn’t dampened his passion for the game. He would eat, breathe, and sleep soccer if we’d let him. And he continues to hone his skills in anticipation of this Fall’s soccer season.
And me? I’m learning all the teams and terms and intricacies of the game that he loves. I’ve got a long way to go, but I know it’s worth it.