It’s time to leave West Africa. Goodbye, it’s been fun. Thousands of miles are behind us, hundreds of games of football have been played and The Ball is covered in signatures. From 40 degree plus scorching heat in Kayes to the sweat-fest of the Atlantic coast, from police escorts to police road blocks, from fresh fish and rice to barbequed cow on street corners, from Isle de Gore to Cape Coast, from the Voodoo Pope to the Gospel church, from Hearts of Oak Accra to Search and Groom Nigeria, massive train rides, DHL cargo flights… ahhhh West Africa has been a blast.
As I proceed through customs, they stamp and sign The Ball but tell me that the The Ball needs to be deflated for the flight to Ethiopia and the onward connection to Nairobi, Kenya. I am told it would be a safety risk otherwise. The flat Ball is stored in a net on my backpack. It is the same net that was used to carry The Ball to the World Cup in 2002. Back then, the net and The Ball 2002 were permanently attached to Phil’s backpack.
At the airport in Addis Ababa I just happen to bump into the Ethiopian Under 17 National Team. I invite them to kick and sign The Ball which they are more than happy to do. Then we are off to Kenya. East Africa is beckoning and I am excited to be joined by another player. Christian is back on The Ball. The last time we saw each other was in Casablanca.
Of all The Balls in all the world this one will bounce back into his path sooner or later.