Monday, July 19, 2010

Grassroots football without the grass

I've discovered that the end of the World Cup does not have to be a bad thing in the world of football. After hanging out yesterday afternoon with a couple of friends in one of the shebeens in my area, we came across a local game in Malvern between two sides playing for money, something that I've come across many times before and have even participated in it (I gave up though when a striker kicked my face in - it was a 50/50 ball and as goalkeeper, I managed to pounce on it a second before he got there. OUCH!). While the pitch had goalposts and nets, there was little in the way of grass. It was a dusty, bumpy pitch with grooves in the earth to mark out the boundaries. Not something that the likes of Rooney, Ronaldo and Messi would fancy playing on!

 Give me my beer!!

 Relaxing in the shebeen

Dan was wearing his Kaizer Chiefs shirt and people thought that he might be from the club; maybe a scout ready to unearth the next Pienaar? The sight of two white Englishmen armed with their cameras confused the row of people that lined the street to watch the game. Maybe we were professional photographers or journalists? The great thing about being in the shebeen and at the football match is that people are genuinely pleased to see you. Throughout the course of my time in South Africa, I have been welcomed by people everywhere. Sometimes I've felt guilty about owning a big camera when I've been with people that have had a lot less than me but it's also proved to be a great ice breaker. So many times, I've struck up conversations with various people after taking photos of them or with them.

Faking injury isn't just an elite football problem. Apparently a bottle of water can cure an ankle injury. Who'd have thought?

Keeper completely misses the ball. Rob Green must be his role model...

As Peter Alegi blogs, getting back to grassroots football is a welcome relief for many of us after the commercialism of the World Cup. 

 The pitch was of a similar quality to Wembley

 Tiverton Town don't get many more spectators


  1. Fantastic photos - it's in places like this where the next Etoo and Drogba are to be found.

  2. Wow those pictures look amazing. What a fantastic experience that must have been :)


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