Let me add to the entry a couple of weeks ago on Basiyano Bauleni, the football lover who spent his all to run his Bauns United in Blantyre’s Kanjedza Township.
He was a soccer lover extraordinaire. We fondly called him ‘Abau.’
At one time, counting down to a crucial cup game, Abau had us camp in his small square tailoring shop.
In one corner was a heap of the food items we were to survive on. In another was a heap of fabric Abau fashioned clothes from. The other two corners were for football jerseys and our clothes.
As young soccer lovers, soccer was all we wanted. So, we did not mind either the crowded nature of our ‘dormitory’ or our sleeping on the cold floor. We just enjoyed every minute of our stay.
If my memory is not trying to crucify me, the members of the camping team included left wing wizard Wylie Tembeta, Jimmy Zakazaka (later in his career to be christened Weapon of Mass Destruction), the clever left foot that is Moses Chavula and the mean defender Ndaziona Mbulelo Chilemba.
A day to the game, Abau’s best effort for our lunch was a pot of beans. As the pot perched on a charcoal stove, whistling under the fierce charcoal furnace, we took turns tending to it.
But boys will be boys. The aroma of the beans was a big pitfall.
Hours later, when Abau went to check ‘progress’ in the boiling pot, he was shocked the pot was almost empty!
And in all this tale, how could I forget to recognise one player Abau could do everything to keep! His name was Lezad. You should therefore know how easy his name was to twist into an unpleasant joke that drove him nuts.
Lezad was as good in goals as he was in the back four. He was a universal soldier! But in case you have ever doubted yours truly’s abilities, kindly know I would make a cut into Bauns’ first 11, just like did Wylie, Jimmy and Lezad!
On the day of the long awaited cup game, it was against a Ndirande outfit with the likes of Robert ‘Baggio’N’gambi. Suddenly, Lezad was nowhere to be seen. Abau knew the consequences of not having him against a team that needed a ruthless mind in our back four.
He quickly had a plan.
You see, in these days, each of the two teams meeting worked together to fix the nets. We had already finished fixing ours when Abau ordered we undo it.
‘Khwefulani neti.Osamaliza kuikunga mpaka Lezadi atulukire,’ we laughed and laughed as we obeyed the instruction.
Minutes later Lezad showed up from a bush, adjusting his short. We laughed to his annoyance.
I was the usual suspect to have said something unpleasant and Lezad nearly killed me. It took Abau to win me peace.
However, throughout the game, I suffered more tackles from Lezad my teammate than did any member of the opposing team!
We lost by a respectable margin. Without Lezad, it could have been worse.
Mostly, without Abau, most youths could not have been exposed to football, both as pastime and a career!
Abau still has the passion and ability to turn raw talent into glittering gems. Can Abau get proper help to realise his passion at the highest level possible! n