Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Game

It’s not difficult to figure out when it’s a game day. Everyone walks around with a crazed look on their face, carrying a handheld radio to their ear or packed into the front of the TroTro craning to hear the radio announcer over the racket of the roughly running engine. When the game is played in Accra, the stadium is flooded by the entire city’s TroTro and taxi traffic, all battling to cut in from of their neighbor. It’s a good time to brush up on insults of the Twi or Ga languages. From motor traffic the stadium becomes equally swamped in foot traffic outside of the entrance gates. The ticket system is a mystery to everyone, but there is a lot of pushing and being shoved into your sweaty neighbor involved. At one point I was actually picked up and moved out of the path of this guy using a bulldozing approach to making it into the game. Everyone seemed to give up on the formal ticket system quickly and we all made it inside through a side door right as the game began. At the sound of the game’s start everyone just turned to the guy next to him, started yelling and sprinted off to fight for a seat.
Togo played Cameroon. The winning goal was scored by Togo within the first five minutes, and as a life-long Togo fan I was in the Togo section caught up in the celebrations. We had only just gotten there but everyone was embracing and jumping. I caught some tears in a few fan’s eyes. Then the drum section of Rastas started up and everyone was dancing. Katja and I received what can only be described as a joint lap dance. There was some improvisational dancing with Togolese flags, which may have been an attempt at baton twirling. A Cameroon fan wandered into our section during the celebration and a fight broke out. Random guys would suddenly jump out of their seats and frantically run into the fight to take a swing for Togo. The crowd-control police were skinny young women so it took a while for everything to settle down. But eventually everyone started dancing to the drums again. A few Togolese women flashed the crowd. No more goals were scored. But, by the end of those 90 minutes the fans had exhausted themselves as much as the players.