Since time memorial we have seen major teams winning big titles in the soccer community. We have seen men and women move together through loses and wins. Through injuries and recoveries. This sense of togetherness is what football has been able to achieve in this world. A brotherhood that stands even when individuals switch teams or sides. What’s even more interesting is football not only brings people together inside the pitch but outside the pitch. This sense of belonging and friendship has revived individuals from grassroots football to the big stadiums like Old Trafford. When you look at the Catalans, Barcelona came into being because the community decided to come together for a common goal. Another example is Sunderland. They fought together until they were able to climb to the premier league tier.
Football brings communities together. Back home in Kenya, we can take an instance of the 2007 election clashes that divided communities. Football was able to change the narrative from kids in the slums to adults in the high end places. Football does not recognise race or colour. It does not know the difference between an African or American. It does not know rich or poor. It does not know religion. It does not know colour. Football is there to be enjoyed. To reclaim the presumably lost battles. To be the blueprint to togetherness; brothers Kevin Prince and Jerome Boateng play for different countries yet their relationship with each other still stands. You stand 11 people on the pitch but every single individual has a part to play. Sometimes others get tired but you come in and help them. You encourage them to push forward. You learn and rebuild from every defeat. If you win, you look for ways to sustain those wins.
I remember when in my childhood years, I always looked forward to 3pm. This was the time I was allowed to go play football with my friends. Football helped me build friendships with so many people. Football taught me to be bolder and stand in confidence in any weighing situation. By football here I am referring to the group of people, not only the sport. I remember we used to play older teams, however, the fact that we could enter the pitch together meant we could face whatever challenge that came our way. It introduced me to many influencing individuals in the sports arena; individuals that practically shaped my worldview. I remember after training sessions we all went together dropping each friend at their gates until the last person. This was usually the oldest. Sometimes it felt as if we were in a wolf pack. The ability to stand together off and on the pitch built the men and women we are today. You get knocked down but you get back up. You see your brother fall whether he is an opponent or not, you lift him up. How you respond to any situation should paint a picture of who you really are deep down.
After every game every one goes back home. Most people don’t feel those places are home. Football teaches the partakers to take care of each other. People come from all walks of life. On the pitch we forget all these walks for a moment. We try to stick to each other; to lift up each other. To stand in the gap for each other. It's a gospel that is mainly practiced. To be your brothers’ keeper. Brotherhood just doesn’t end on the last goodbye when you reach home. You always check up on each other. Especially now at a time where the pandemic has restricted our gatherings. We can always look after each other. You have us. Together we will always be stronger. Friends are the family you keep.
By Wilfred Omari