I decided to stay with a Colombian family on this leg of the journey. Anyela and Ruben are educators, writers, journalists and run their own independent newspaper “ecolectivo’. They report on ordinary peoples lives and have won literature prizes for their work in writing about people on the margins of society in Medellin. Also staying with them was the brilliant Mario Gomez from Madrid (No, not that Mario Gomez). Mario is a journalist and translator and has been a massive support to me all week, especially when I was trying to buy stuff to make a shepherds pie for everyone, and I couldn’t even say ‘carrots’ in Spanish. The very lovely and pretty amazing Shefali from India and Giulia from Italy were also living at the house.
I persuaded them to come for a game of footy at the nearby Inder Park. Ruben and Anyela invited their friends Raul, Johnny and Alejandra to play too. This would be the first proper night match, on a very sandy pitch under floodlights. When we got to the park some young chaps were already playing so we invited them to play with us.
Game on. 7 v 7. What a game ! It took a full 15 minutes for the deadlock to be broken. Diving to my right like a teenage puma (!?) I managed to paw away a fierce shot, but only into the path of the Delhi Dazzler Shefali, who tucked it away at the far jumper. Good finish for someone who had never played before in her life ! Things rapidly went from bad to worse for our side. 2-0 down at half-time, with Shefali notching another (goal-hanger!), we paid for missed chances and went 4-0 down not long after the break.
The match was fiercely competitive, with Johnnie, Raul, Ruben and the local lads in particular biting into the tackles. Giulia was turning on the Italian class for us at times ; neat turns, penetrating runs and precise passing. Mario was everywhere, forcing the play, making big tackles and trying with everything he had to get us back in the game. Some engine that fella. Anyela was brilliant. She just hung about in front of me putting blocks in and laughing. We eventually pulled one back.
It was pretty clear that we were going to struggle to close the gap, so we exchanged one of our players for their best player, whose name I didn't get. Let’s just call him the orange flash (he had on a bright orange t-shirt). This guy was brilliant ! Mid 20’s, fit as a fiddle with unbelievable tekkers. He started to run things for us and I hardly had a shot to save from there on in. It wasn’t long before we got the score back to 4-4. Everyone looked knackered by this time so it was next goal the winner. Fortunately we got it.
Brilliant and joyful game with brilliant people. These Colombians really take the game seriously.
We went back to house after, ate shepherds pie and listened to Raul and Johnnie knocking out South American folk songs on guitar and percussion until 4 in the morning. Absolutely superb night.