Would you believe that the kindergarten football tournament yesterday ended after drawing at the final, on a penalty shoot out - with our daughter in goal representing her team! She looked a bit small in goal with her borrowed/too big red and white Arsenal goalie gloves. Oh, the agonies - not of the five and six year olds playing, but of the parents. I had to watch the final minutes between fingers over my eyes - especially as one after another goal got in.
It was a scorching day. We drove an hour and a half out of Nairobi to get to the venue. The playing fields looked like proper African savanna with scrubby yellow patches of grass and dust devils whirling up out of nowhere. We parents stood en masse in the midday sun with hats on and not enough suncream and heckled shamelessly from the sidelines. The children were overheating but enthusiastic - or rather, heroic in the circumstances. There were mothers running onto the pitch to help with untied shoe laces and offer bottles of water and dad's and mums giving uninterrupted streams of advice to their preciouses.
Ultimately our team lost. 'I don't think I am a very good goalie' said my daughter this morning at breakfast. 'Nonsense' I said -'and besides, this is just the beginning of your sporting career. You are going to be brilliant.' 'Will I have to play football?' she asked 'Probably not when you go to your big school, but you are very good at it so it would be a shame to give up.' 'OK' she said, 'but I don't want to be goalie again.'