The latest footballing book littering my library has the beautiful title “This love is not for cowards: Salvation and Soccer in Ciudad Juarez.
In this book, Andrew talks of a Ciudad Juarez a city in Mexico where people are eliminated daily, Mexico has descended into a feudal Narco state, one where cartels, death squads, the ground forces, and local police all fight over billions of bucks in earnings from drug and human trafficking — the border city of Juarez has been hit hardest of all. And yet, more than a million people still live there. They even love their impoverished city, proudly repeating its mantra: “Amor por Juárez.”
Nothing exemplifies the spirit and hope of Juarenses more than the Indus, the city’s beloved, but hard-luck soccer team. The sport may seem a meager distraction, but to the citizens it’s a lifeline. It draws midfielder Marco Vidal back from Dallas to achieve the athletic dreams of his Mexican father. Team owner Francisco Ibarra and Mayor José Reyes Ferriz both thrive on soccer. So does the dubiously named crew of Indios fans, El Kartel.
Mexico, a newly industrialized country (NIC) as it is now being expected to execute its football better, perhaps the reason their presence at the World Cup didn’t have us singing that much.
Notwithstanding, one that has caught us talking and still takes in us talking is the absence and presence of Kenya’s national team, the Harambee Stars. It’s even hard to explain it to the world, how Kenya was at the World Cup and how proud some of us are about it.
If our football were a city- it wouldn’t be wrong comparing it to the Ciudad Juarez situation- where footballers (dreams) are removed daily, one where cartels, death squads, the army and local police fight over not billions, but even the small sums needed to make the game.
While the city is hard hit every single day, the most exciting thing is that, more and more people still subsist in it- more and more footballers are produced and have a thirst to surpass.
The fans, with every single-passing day, have raised hopes in the Harambee Stars and with the media leading them, it’s hard to deny, if it only came down to support- Kenya would rival so many teams at the World Cup.
The country hard luck soccer team, Harambee Stars has far degraded from being a lifeline to a distraction over time (note the difference?)
Perhaps let’s begin here
Lesotho comes visiting and with the distraction well in place for the weekend, it’s no shock the country concentrates on other things- yes, lifelines- like wages, My Bukusu Darling amongst others.
The morale isn’t high supposedly because it’s a pre-group qualifier match, but honesty means saying- the fear and early anticipation of a knock out by Lesotho hugs every Kenyan Football soul.
Rightfully so because of, for want of a better word, ‘Cowards’ who pretend to love the game still control the job.
You will never understand a man who watches the game degrade under his watch and still insists over and over that ‘football is growing.’
You will never understand a country whose national team better gets to watch the World Cup in Brazil rather than prepare for an important match.
But that’s not where we end it,
The supporting cast is outstanding- from outright sisal skirt dancers singing and penning in the dailies the ‘football is growing’ song to the club owner who submits into being bullied at the vision of a little sum of money that can quell his thirst albeit for the short-run.
The fans in the perfect retrogressive state make it ungovernable- scream at what carries no weight and shut up at what should bear all the weightiness of their fists, not landing them on a national team coach
We shouldn’t let this happen anymore; it’s simply far too important.
Sometimes change begins with us refusing to listen to every ‘Kenyan forced Origi story’ to demanding our own story, meant for us-challenging the order of normal. The realization that like the people of Juarez, talent can be drawn back home, decisions can be made in a proper manner and football cannot just be a distraction, but a lifeline.
We need to speak out. So much wrong happens, but like the cowards who govern, control media and clubs, pushing stuff down our throats, when we keep quiet, we too become cowards!