Children with an Alive & Kicking ball

Posts tagged ‘Blantyre’

It’s just not cricket

It’s the last ball of the over, in runs the young medium pacer, bowling over the wicket, off a short run-up. But what’s that in his hand? It’s The Ball. And what a delivery — right up there in the block hole. The Ball hits the batsman about knee-height on his front pad. There’s a large shout for LBW. It looks plum. The umpire’s hand goes up. He’s out. Howzat!

The DHL cricket team are on The Ball
The DHL cricket team are on The Ball

Thanks to the DHL cricket team for being good sports. It may not quite be the Spirit of Football, but it’s certainly the Spirit of Cricket.

Special Olympics Malawi

Blantyre welcomes The Ball in style with a parade to the stadium from the polytechnic, DJs blaring funky music from a truck, Special Olympians leading the way with friends, family and supporters in tow.

Marching from the polytechnic to the stadium
Marching from the polytechnic to the stadium

Be a fun of The Ball
Be a fun of The Ball

The national stadium is the venue for the latest installment of the publicity drive that the national Special Olympics programmes are undertaking with The Ball as their catalyst and their story.

The Minister of Sport checks his notes while Andrew speaks
The Minister of Sport checks his notes while Andrew speaks

The Minister of Sport is the guest of honour, attending despite a very tight schedule on this national holiday in Malawi. Although not as forthright in his support as we would all like him to be, it sounds like he’s urging Special Olympics Malawi to redouble their efforts in producing results at international competitions before offering his full support. Still, conditional support is better than none, and SO Malawi take up the challenge and promise results.

Speeches over, it’s time for some football. A Unified football game precedes the main attraction of the day — a match between two of Malawi’s top teams: Escom and MTN Wanderers.

A Unified Football team prepares for the match
A Unified Football team prepares for the match

Barefoot kickoff in the Unified game
Barefoot kickoff in the Unified game

While the Unified game is underway, Andrew gets down to the, ahem, serious business of getting signatures on The Ball. He’s determined that all the Special Olympians present should leave their mark on it and so he heads for he stands where they are all gathered. An hour later and he’s completed his mission.

Special Olympians Mikakh Chikanga and Balire Kudzala sign The Ball
Special Olympians Mikakh Chikanga and Balire Kudzala sign The Ball

The professionals take to the field to much applause and cheering from the stands. It seems like their supporters have turned out is force, despite the game being a friendly.

First half expectancy in the crowd
First half expectancy in the crowd

The enthusiasm starts to fade in the second half, however, as it looks like the professional teams, minds probably on upcoming cup fixtures, are happy to grind out a 0-0 draw.

Second half lethargy in the crowd
Second half lethargy in the crowd

Many positives can be taken from this event. The organisation has been impeccable, SO Malawi are up for the Minister’s challenge (and will no doubt rise to it), there has been a great turnout from the public, and the SO athletes have had a wonderful time in the limelight. Which, in the end, is as it should be.

Michael Ballack rues his injury

Michael Ballack rues his injury

Michael Ballack is spotted doing a bit of commentating in Blantyre, where he is convalescing after the injury that’s kept him out of the World Cup.

The Ball 2014 left England on 9th Jan 2014 and headed to the World Cup in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

The Ball 2010 left England on 24th Jan 2010 headed to the Opening Ceremony in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The Ball 2006 travelled from London to the Opening Ceremony in Munich, Germany.

The Ball 2002 was carried 7000 miles across Europe and Asia to the World Cup finals in Korea & Japan.