Wednesday, August 8, 2007


Alex, when he’s feeling perverse, blogs commentries of Rugby League matches (going off subject). So this weekend taking half a leaf out of his book (or blog) I’ll talk a little bit about our local sporting scene.

But let us start with me and Sport … not a particularly favourable combination … played rugby (union) at secondary school with some enthusiasm – I was no. 2, the hooker, in the middle of the scrum. I was short and fat which made me ideal for the position. I played in the school team for five years. Never scored a try but was notable as a tackler - I would put myself standing still in the way of a fast-running tall back who was looking over my head.

But at the age of 11 they put us on a 3 mile cross-country run in freezing cold rain on muddy paths – not fun!

The weather got better and we played hockey and rugby. I quite liked hockey but was not much good at it. The head of the PE department played for the England men’s hockey team. In the summer rugby and hockey stopped to be replaced by athletics, cricket and tennis. Athletics – the running wasn´t fun, but I was ok at shot-putt. Cricket – I was scared shitless by this very hard ball being launched at me at x miles per hour! Those were the days when the cricket “caps” did not have face protection. Tennis …

My success with rugby did not last. When we got to the two-year Sixth form (16-18 years), I was suddenly thrown into a semi-adult world of “large men” and I was finally growing out of “short and fat” to ”short and thin”. Demoted to a substitute 2nd XIV hooker. I arrived at the University of Leeds and two weeks after arriving the captain of the newly-formed Rugby League team (Leeds Uni did not have a League team !!??) asked if I would play hooker – I looked up from my Hall of Residence dining table to see a 6 foot something hulk and said … oh fuck … uh, no.

I still watch Rugby Union with enthusiasm. (Sorry Alex, the Beeb doesn’t show us Rugby League on satellite!). Two years ago I spent a wonderful fortnight watching cricket after work with Bill, an American friend – I don’t find many Americans who understand it! After a meticulous explanation Nanda actually understands 50-over games and with semi-interest has watched some matches on television. She and I haven’t got the time or patience for a full-blown test match. Tennis, Formula 1 racing (sorry Craig), the horses etc leave me cold although I do enjoy both the winter and summer Olympics and seeing some of the sports not usually shown on television.

And this leads me on to our sporting scene

Football (soccer to our US readers) is, obviously if you know Africa, the most popular sport. We have a league, a “cup” championship, and matches throughout the year. So I won’t talk about it except to say we still cannot get past the first round of soccer’s African Nations’ Cup!

Running (all distances) has had a small following of athletes since independence and we were represented by runners in the last Olympic Games for the first time (in the penultimate Games they arrived only to find that they hadn’t registered in time!).

In the last few years several “new” sports have appeared.

Taekwondo – at which we are competing at the continental level.

Chess - at which we competed at the continental level for the first time this year.


Cycling – particularly, I think, mountain-biking and competing at a regional level.

Beach Volleyball.

I have reserved until last our oldest and newest sports.

Our oldest is card games – particularly “Bisca”, and to a lesser extent, “Sueca”. Apparently, both originated on the Iberian peninsula but please go wiki them if you really want to know the rules - I know nothing about card games (never got beyond Snap, Beggar Your Neighbour and Hunt the Cunt).

On Sunday afternoons massive Bisca teams will assemble, home or away, at an appointed palm wine bar announced on the radio, and play a set number of bisca rounds. Bisca is played in coordinated opposite-sitting pairs, as Bridge or Whist. So one pair is from the home team, one from the away team and many secret signal plans exist for the pairs to communicate to each other their hand or what card to play next. Full of lively intrigue! A referee from each team goes round the tables and collects the point-based scores as each game finishes.

A good and lively time is had by all!

Hey, perhaps we could start an International Bisca Committee with Spain, Portugal and their respective ex-colonies around the world!

Our newest formalised sport is … Table Football!!


Craig said...

No offence taken over the lack of interest in F1 - the way the races are going lately, all the interesting stuff is happening off the track anyway!

Anonymous said...

Rugby League or Rugby Union? Which is better?
Personally I think Rugby League out classes union by far, though being a Wakefield Wildcats fan makes me a little biased! However I do admit that internationally Rugby League needs some work so Rugby Union has that on its side but what about the game itself?
It seems that Rugby Union is just a collection of dog piles most of the time followed by short lived runs which either involve running straight into the other teams players or scoring the odd try, WHY!?
In Rugby League I can see the point in running straight into your opponent as you have to make some ground only having six tackles to do it but in Union, it’s just a way of losing the ball! Fools!
I mean I like doing a little Rugby League Betting every other week but when it comes to Rugby Union, its just boring! KICK! THERE INFRONT! KICK! THERE BEHIND!! KICK THERE INFRONT AGAIN!!! OH NO WAIT!! THERE BEHIND AGAIN! RUN THE DAMN BALL!!!!
Anyway I’ll stop my rant here and give someone else say what they think!