Look at these fools waving around their pom poms 🙂
What would high school be without sports? I distinctly remember sitting on the deck of the student center, talking to my friend Beth, and the guys were practicing some sort of sport on the field below, and in my lovely mature teenage manner, I quipped “Ah, Beth, enjoy God’s creation with me” as I gazed towards the boys. I believe she walked away laughing hysterically.
Aside from the dizzying sexual tension of watching our fellow classmates perform (read: sarcasm), our varsity teams weren’t that bad…and our junior varsity teams were pure entertainment. Middle school girls’ basketball? Pull up a front row seat. Better yet, the Volleyball B team? My sides hurt already.
When we weren’t watching the carnage of losing in soccer matches to Cameroonian public schools, we were usually trying to cheer louder against our arch-enemy-rivals-from-death…the American School of Yaoundé (ASOY). Oh boy oh boy. The non-Christians!!! Obviously, it wasn’t true that all students who attended ASOY weren’t Christians. From what I remember, we were pretty neck and neck when it came to team sports. Namely, they were the school that was most similar to ours in the city (small population of students, American ex-pats, diverse people, diplomat kids, at least one dorm, etc.) so competition was natural.
Soccer was the sport of choice in Cameroon. Cameroonians wove in and out of players, slaying to the left and right, striking that goal like it was nobody’s business. We howled our enthusiasm when someone was out-dribbled, duped, when our stars would kick that ball so that it collided with the back net of the goal. I still remember when Cameroon’s Indomidable Lions won a match for one of the world cups, and as the hostel watched it together on the living room TV, if we stayed quiet, we could hear the whole city humming with cheering. During tense penalty shots, the air was thick with silence. When we scored, all around us, with the neighbors, with the whole “cartier”, we erupted in celebration.
My favorite intramural sport was soccer. There was this rush from stepping on the field. American and Cameroonian alike passed, shot, defended. I loved it. When the high school girls’ soccer team would practice during the week, we’d run the back routes to a large field. We’d run under luxurious tree shade, pass neighbors who were cooking outside, we’d run through some sort of tree-processing factory. If there’s anything I’ll remember about south central Cameroon, it would be the red dirt. Orange-red dust coating our shoes. The earth looked alive. There was nothing like doing soccer drills and tasting the salt of your sweat. Once, our coach made us do what he called “Liverpools” (named after his favorite team): we’d jog the short goal-side edge of the field, sprint the long sides of the field, jog the opposite goal-side of the field, then sprint across the field from corner to corner, then do it all over again. Add the sweltering heat and the unforgiving sun, and you were guaranteed to be exhausted. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
If we had soccer tournaments on Saturdays, at the hostel we would pack lunch sandwiches and head out in the vans to wherever we were playing in the city. You could sit with fellow teammates when you weren’t out playing. We weren’t much to watch when it came to performance, but we had active strikers at least. Afterwards when we got home, I’d remove my jersey that was stained with sweat and collapse into bed after a shower and dinner. It felt like heaven 🙂