The Football Match
Going to a professional sports game is always exciting. We went to the club soccer finals of Addis Ababa. We found out that there was this soccer game on Saturday, and through much confusion we got tickets. The stadium benches were cement stairs. There wasn’t a scoreboard and no TV screen. This amazed us considering it was Ethiopia’s national stadium. The actual soccer game was basically the same as at home, but there were many other things that reminded us that we were somewhere else. Ninety-nine percent of the spectators were middle-aged men. There were street venders selling snacks, but when we looked at the refreshments, we were surprised to see regular bread buns along with lollipops, nuts, and Samosas, a triangular deep fried burrito type of thing. The way they sold the nuts was you paid one cent and received a water bottle cap full of the grains. We were pleased that these were not the outrageous American prices. We paid thirty cents for the seats and a bread bun was ten cents. We part took in a lottery. We paid ten cents and received a paper with a number on it. We think that if we won we would have gotten something like fifty percent of the money, but we weren’t sure. We saw a different guy walking around holding a new, white, Addidas, left shoe. We figured that the winner of that raffle would also win the right shoe. It was kind of strange to us that all of the people weren’t watching the game. One kid was watching us intently the entire time. During halftime almost all the people that were sitting near us were looking at us. My dad was really into the game. When the crowd cheered he would do his cat-call or really overdue his cheers. The people sitting next to us laughed at him, and that just encouraged him more. There wasn’t really an announcer, but the microphone was just on one section in the stadium. One of the guys in the section was really in the game, screaming at the ref egging on the players and sometimes it seemed he was just yelling. During the game we saw that a bunch of people had left the stands to get down to a grassy area. They took off their shoes, knelt down together in neat rows, faced the same direction, and put their noses to the ground praying. On the other side of the fence five feet away the soccer game was in full swing. We assumed that these were Muslims performing their ritual at sunset.
Going home was also an adventure. We were among many, who ran out of the stadium as soon as the game ended trying to get to the line taxies before they were full. When we got to the line taxi stop, there were already a lot of people. Three taxies took a load of people before we even got close to one. Finally we saw one that we were sure we could get into. The minivan taxi slowed down right in front of us but didn’t stop. As everybody was moving sideways along with the taxi waiting for it to stop, I saw Rytas disappear in the shuffling crowd. Then I looked up and saw my dad lifting him up by his shirt. Rytas had a look of surprise, joy, and confusion on his face. As the line taxi stopped and open its door, I saw someone push Lukas, who bumped into Vidas, Rytas was on my dad’s shoulders, who reminded me of Moses the way he split the sea of people in between him and the taxi, Vasara was next to me practically diving in the car, and my mom who did an uncharacteristic American football block to cut people off from jumping into the vehicle, although I think she practices this move every day coming home from work. We fit twenty-three people in the twelve-seater van. Getting a line taxi is a sport of its own. In a country where the unemployment rate is thirty to fifty percent, there are many bored people. It is no wonder that so much attension was shown to a rare ferenji (foreign) familyattending a sporting event, and that much emphasis is placed on the hope that a particular athlete or team will break through to the top.