Monday July 29 2019

A Reflection: The Sachinda Soccer Tournament

“It’s the one sport that unites everyone”

Alban Sianaga

Soccer…the beautiful game. A game so lovely that in the midst of war British and German soldiers laid down their arms in Christ’s embrace, and decided, even if only for a minute, to play that enchanted sport.

The Christmas Truce of 1914

In Eagle House (the Boys’ Hostel), it’s becoming tradition that every year soccer enthusiasts — from players, fans, fledgling-analysts to even your run-of-the-mill spectator — gather their mates, slip on their boots (some missing a stud, or three) and choose their team colours (which were always a whole catalogue of shades from the deepest oceanic blue to the most sun-bleached azure).

The Form 4s

The tournament took place under a mild sun on Saturday the 13th of July. Would-be managers (like myself) drafted their team formation, spouting strange numbers like “3-1-2”, “2-2-2”, “3-2-1”, with fellow team members, in hopes that this year would be their year.

Initially, the Sachinda Tournment started out as the Sachinda Premier League in 2016. It was the creation of a Lower Sixth student (who later became Headboy) named Simbarashe “Storm” Charuma. It functioned quite similar to an actual soccer league, with matches every weekend between competing forms. Changes came about the following year, and now in its current form the event is under the leadership of the Senior First Team Soccers Players.

When asked about his motivation behind taking on the task of managing the tournament, Sir Kwande answered, “I just thought I’d keep the boys busy…and [try] to build the game up.” He went on, “People, if they’re not occupied, [will] start being naughty and doing a lot of stuff.”                                          And so that old saying might wink, “Idle hands…”

A handful of teams were scraped together that Saturday Afternoon:

From the ‘Form 4s’ (yes, that was their team name), to the Upper Sixes’ ‘Positive Vibes’ and ‘Glock’; the Lower Sixes’  ‘Vikings’,

The Form 3s’ ‘Gorillas’ and ‘G Boys’; the Form 2s’ ‘Bonibers’, and the Form 1s’ ‘Lion Kings’.

The matches were as uneven as a wave, high and expectant at one point, and lulling at the next. The opening match was between the Bonibers and Positive Vibes. From the onset — mismatched — a classic senior-versus-junior scenario, but not as predictable as one may have thought.

The Form 2s put up a good fight, with a special mention to William Kasitomo’s unrelenting and speedy pursuit of the ball. The result however was to be expected, the Vibes won.

An interesting part of the whole event was the spectator culture that was bubbling up by the benches. Songs, some cheering the winning team, others urging losing teams onwards, while others (funnier and slightly rude) commented on players’ missed shots calling it having a ‘bent leg’ or a ‘banana leg’.

Soccer players deeply engaged in an ongoing match

The matches following were a mixture of fierce attacking and desperate defending. In one gameplay sequence teams had to ‘Park the Bus’, that is a sort of ‘all-out-defence’ (imagine having a whole school bus filled with wary soccer players buckling in front the goalposts, and there you have it, a semi-impenetrable wall securing your one-to-two-goal win).

In other matches players made sport of their ‘unending warfare’(goal-scoring) with an instance of goalie Francis Moyo coming out of his net to score a penalty — talk about rubbing salt in the wound.

Another team, the Form 3’s ‘G Boys’ were also a ‘heavy-hitter’ team, unfortunately failing to qualify for the final stretches of the tournament.

Seeing all this competition, teamwork and flair of skill blooming around me, I was reminded of an interview I had with Alban Sianaga, a First Team Hockey Player, who was also participating in the tournament. Here’s what he said about the whole thing:

KKM: You’re not a soccer player, but you’re here, is soccer just that good?

AS: …It’s the one sport that unites everyone, cause everyone — somehow you’re born and you understand soccer. It’s easy to understand so everyone can play soccer…it’s a good bonding sport, teamwork, a lot of people can play, so it’s a plus for me.

Later on during the tournament I also interviewed Sir Marufu on his experience of ‘Sachinda Soccer’:

KKM: How long has Sachinda Soccer been here in Hostel, and how’s it been?

AM: Ever since I was in Form 3, now I’m in Upper Six, I can say it’s been an excellent experience. I’ve been at it for very long, and I’ve been playing for a very long time and I‘ve also had my setbacks, but you know how it is, that’s football.

Sir Marufu making a run

That is football indeed. Let’s hope this soccer culture continues to flourish in the years to come.

Kundai-Karl Mpame – Student Journalist