The Ball Doctor

“Oh, a Kenyan ball,” said the Cameroonian Minister for Youth and Sport. “Next time, you should use a Cameroonian ball.”

The Minister, his cabinet, Andrew and The Ball
The Minister, his cabinet, Andrew and The Ball

Overcoming his surprise, the Minister then tells us about the Cameroonian Society for the Employment of Youth (RIFMAS) which runs a programme called Fabrication du Materiel Sportif.

“We employ youths to produce footballs and nets. We have 35 employees in four regions of the country. We produce footballs because the public demands them. We sell the balls produced to schools at a very good price.”

The Minister insists that we meet Levi Herve Oyono, the Director of RIFMAS. Andrew tells Levi that The Ball was hit by a car in Abidjan and taken to hospital, where it was bandaged up.

Levi Herve Oyono, the Director of RIFMAS
Levi Herve Oyono, the Director of RIFMAS

“Ah, you can get it repaired at our stitching centre,” says Levi, as he inspects The Ball.

“No,” says Andrew, “it’s going back to Alive & Kicking in Kenya to be restitched. The panels can’t be replaced, but could The Ball get a patch?”

“Okay, no problem,” comes the reply. “You can visit our workshop in Yaounde.”

Outside the Fabrication du Materiel Sportif factory
Outside the Fabrication du Materiel Sportif factory

The next day, we arrive at Fabrication du Materiel Sportif. The Ball Doctor is waiting for us. His name is Bekala Florent Esto and, with practiced hands, he slowly and gently examines The Ball’s wound.

The Ball's gaping wound
The Ball’s gaping wound

His diagnosis? “I’ll remove this panel and stitch a patch of leather over the wound. It is a great pleasure for me to repair this great ball. I heard about The Ball on the radio and I am honoured to do this.”

With the care of a professional surgeon, The Ball Doctor removes the damaged panel, and glues a carefully cut strip of leather over the hole on the panel’s underside. Then, he stitches the leather strip on to the panel and the panel back on to The Ball. It is a fine operation and shows his splendid skill and craftsmanship.

The Ball deflated and with a patch removed
The Ball deflated and with a patch removed

The Ball Doc. glues on a leather bandage
The Ball Doc. glues on a leather bandage

The bandaged panel is restitched
The bandaged panel is restitched

The Doctor weighs The Ball in at 3.5kg. Fit as a football. He pumps The Ball up and it’s ready for use again. Its roundness is even back once more. He measures it as 76cm.

Oversized Ball
Oversized Ball

“Slightly oversize,” he says.

It’s quite unusual for a patient to get a good kicking after an operation, but in this case, that’s exactly what happens.

Written by on Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

2 comments on this post

  1. Beautiful restoration work from the surgeon… clinical… shame he couldn’t have slipped in a tummy tuck while the knives were out!

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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.