Ask me why Iam a staunch supporter of AFC Leopards team and will not give you a convincing answer, maybe it is just that it is a Luhya football club and yes those are my roots. Don’t even think of asking me the names of the players I have no idea but at least I know Allan Wanga and Mike Barasa. Last weekend’s match between Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards was not part of my weekend’s plan, since I did not know anyone who was planning to attend and from experience in 2010 when I attended the Match for the first time I was not planning to risk again.
My pal happened to call me that Saturday evening just to catch up and the match discussion came up. We gave each other psyche and decided we would attend. We were not sure we would get tickets; he suggested he would look for them first thing in the morning even if it means buying the Russia Side/Terrace tickets at Kshs.200.
You might be wondering what I mean by Russia/Terrace this is the area where the commoners sit whereas the so called VIPs sit at a secluded area. To access the VIP area you have to part with Kshs. 500. The difference between VIP and Russia is that there is a shelter from the sun, a gated area and also you can catch a glimpse of the players when they enter the pitch. VIP people at least behave apart from a few cases that can easily be handled by the security personnel that guard the area hence no rowdiness and unnecessary commotion. Though there is a challenge of proper shelter especially when it rains at the same time it is windy. Sometimes the rowdy crowd can easily jump over the fence and cause havoc.
Moving on my Sunday plan was set. By 1.00pm I was ready to head to the Stadium for the big match. From the facebook and twitter status updates the Green (Gor Mahia) and Blue (AFC Leopards) army was already charged ready to face each other in a few hours. Since the game was starting at 3pm I made an effort of getting to the stadium half an hour before the match because of the long queues and last minute ticket buying. Nairobi West and its environs was abuzz with all kinds of activities from both sides. Fortunately my pal got VIP tickets from a friend who happens to be my classmate, so we did not hustle last minute.
By 2.55pm when the game was about to start we sat strategically amongst other people ready to cheer the “Ingwe” players. As it kicked off I wondered like seriously I had gone to watch men running after a ball for 90minutes!! I followed keenly as they tried to outdo each other in the field with Gor players falling after every 5 minutes. Allan Wanga was the centre of attention after much airtime in the local media and social networks. There was another player who happens to AFC Leopards’ favourite Mike Barasa who joined the rest in chasing after a ball in the 2nd half. The first half went well as planned with a few opportunities going to waste for both teams, either the two goal keepers were too smart for the lads or the players were just on a mission to miss out the opportunity; that is my opinion with my little knowledge about football.
After a few minutes of resting the whistle was blown and the second half started on a high note, by 66th minute hell broke loose when one Victor Ali was shown a red card for a high boot on Jonas Nahimana. In my opinion the red card was justified he seriously hit the AFC player. This was the beginning of war between the two rivals aka “In-laws”. The Gor Mahia fans literally did a mass walk out as the AFC fans watched and dared them to walk out. Within a few minutes stones from all over started flying from one corner towards the pitch where the players were. The armed police men did not spare them, the Russia side was a no go zone as police hulled teargas to the Gor Mahia fans who flew for safety either to the AFC Leopards side or outside the stadium. The game had to be stopped for about 20minutes for things to cool down. The AFC Leopards fans watched in shock as the police and Gor Mahia fans engaged in a battle however that did not stop them from enjoying fan side of it a few danced to the Isikuti music.
After sometime the game continued and within no time, the whistle was blown and the game was over with over 30 minutes wasted. Since we were scared of leaving the stadium we sat for 20 minutes for things to cool then headed for Kuche Kuche for some drinks. The pub was fully packed with both Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards fans discussing the day’s happening in a calm environment. That left me wondering what the hostility was all about inside the stadium. As people celebrated for whatever reasons, along Uhuru Highway, town and other parts of the city things were not looking good. However we need to note that not every Gor Mahia or AFC Leopards fans come to cause chaos during matches it is just selected few who do such barbaric things. It is high time both sides cape up with strategies on how to counter this negative publicity and deal with the hooligans who pose as ardent followers of the two teams. Football bodies should put in place measures that will counter such ugly scenes as experience in 2010 and last weekend.
A few tips to those who love football and wish to come to watch the game but the chaotic incidents scare them off:-
- Make sure you are in a company I would recommend if you are a lady you ensure a male friend accompanies but of course he must be a lover of football.
- Kshs. 500 will go a long way in saving you from a lot of trouble such the rowdy crowd.
- Ensure you buy the ticket in advance to avoid last minute queues that will make you impatient
- Arrive at the stadium an hour before the game starts so that you can take a good position inside the stadium
- After the game wait until everyone leaves to avoid rowdiness
- Be friendly at all time even if someone tries to offend you, you will avoid lots of trouble
- Let people call you Kigeugeu but carry an extra top to change when things become bad for instance fans of the teams attacking each other.
All said and done I enjoy attending such events because of the energy expedited, the fanfare for instance the Isikuti dancing by the Luhyas, the teasing of each other, the flare and the environment. It is good to do crazy things once in a while for the fun of it.