By Gift Wogu
Being a Nigerian is hard, being a female football fan in Nigeria is harder. It’s the hardest when all your friends are telenovela fans and you have to take the lone walk to the viewing centre whenever your favourite team is playing.
It’s a beautiful evening. I take a bath, dress up, beg my roommate for a full picture (I have to look down whenever I’m posing for a picture. I hope I find whatever I am looking for on the floor) and strode off to Papa Kobe’s. That’s the nearest viewing centre to my apartment and tacky as it is, I like it there. I am going to be very unhappy if my team loses, again. Catching my best friend in bed with my ex is heartbreaking enough, so much for friendship. Arsenal cannot come and break the remaining part of my heart. If they do, I’m so porting.
As I take a seat, the waiter walks up to me. ‘The usual?‘ I nod in agreement and he returns with a chilled bottle of “33” Export Larger Beer. Give it to Papa Kobe’s never to serve you an unchilled drink. He drops it on my table with a clean glass beside it and I thank him.
A tall guy with tattoos takes a seat beside me and gives me a curious look at the same time. I look away. ‘Hi’, he says. I give him the same reply. ‘Why are you here?’ he asks. ‘Why are you here? To ask women if they want to watch football?’ I return because I really want to know. ‘Women who watch football are losers. It’s not a game for the faint-hearted,’ he says. I am angry now. I want to tell him how he is the loser here having no sense at this age but I pour myself a glass of “33” Export Larger Beer instead and I feel alright. I didn’t feel the need to reply him anymore. That’s one of the reasons I love this beer, it calms my nerves.
A chubby lady who is on low-cut touches the annoying man. ‘You that have time, you left your house to call people losers, abi?’ He ignores her and walks away. She replaces him. ‘My name is Onome, what’s yours?’ ‘Omoni,’ I reply. ‘Some men think football is for guys alone. Shout out to all the men who appreciate women who love football. I met a guy who once told me irresponsible women watch football. According to him, I should learn tailoring. Me that is a seamstress.’ She beckons on the waiter. ‘A bottle of “33” Export Larger Beer for myself and my new friend Omoni.’ I smile and thank her. ‘I really hope Arsenal wins today. I’m tired of being heartbroken,’ I put in. ‘If you are an Arsenal fan, you should be used to it. I love football because it brings people together. Imagine a Nigeria where no one cares about tribe, religion, finances and even gender.’ She states emphatically. The waiter drops our order on the table, we open it and pour for ourselves.
My team lose the match. I am able to get it together because of Onome. We stay back to talk and I find out that she has been job hunting for 3 years and tailoring helps her to be busy. We become friends and we watch subsequent matchs together. I am so glad to have a friend who is interested in my brand of beer and football. She also loves the viewing centre just like me.
2 months later, there is an opening in my company that requires Onome’s kind of skill. I recommend her and she gets the job.
Onome is getting married next week Saturday and guess who her chief bridesmaid is? Me! We are best friends now. Football and “33” Export Larger Beer introduced me to true friendship and I am forever grateful for.
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