Ben Blog. July 2011. I am the Jackie Robinson of Gambian Men’s League Soccer. On our way back to the village a few weeks back a man I was talking to told me that I am the only white person he has ever heard of playing on a Gambian village football team…ever. Hence, just like Jackie broke that barrier back in 19blahblah, I am breaking that barrier in 2011, in
Africa. Jackie and I, we are so much the same, yet so very different.
I’ve now played in two official matches. Both were sad, sad losses and I won’t bore you too much with those details. I will say that both matches concluded in fights. The first between our team’s other goalkeeper and someone from the other team. The second fight was between someone on our team and someone from our village. I have no idea what happened in either situation. All I do know is that the first fight meant a red card for our other goalie and a three games suspension. That left me, the first American-African ever to play in the league, as our only goalkeeping option. Our team struggles a bit and I am personally still adjusting to the conditions, not to mention that I have been out of practice for a few years now. Much like I am sure Jackie did back in the day, I endure a good amount of taunting during the games. I’ll spare you the details of what people like to yell at me but I will tell you its not nice. To be honest, even though I know I should just let it slide and not care about what they yell it is actually quite frustrating to deal with. If only I could just ask Jackie how he handled it. Of course, it hasn’t all been bad. Some people are very supportive and happy to see me out there. A few more matches and I’ll be pretty well known around this region. I’ve already come across a few people who know who I am specifically because of my ballin.
We have another game on July 9th. Hopefully we can pull it together, score a few goals, play at least a tiny amount of defense and actually win our game. I think that will help my reputation as well as help keep my taunters quite. We will see how it goes. But for now, the struggle continues. I’m sure J.R. didn’t change the American baseball world in a day. Domanding, demanding - slowly, slowly, we’ll change the world together.