The wide gates that lead you to the stadium in Maiduguri where the El-Kanemi warriors play does not reflect the seriousness of the players. The paint is old. The gates are even older.
A small blackboard tells you the team coming to play against the El-Kanemi babes, the junior team of the celebrated warriors.
As you enter, the wide open fields welcome and there is an adrenaline rush.
A group of people loiter the offices awaiting the arrival of the players. It is game day.
As the players arrive in a bus, it is instant excitement. A young fan rushes to the car. A small group of men enter the office of the secretary for a briefing. The players A crowd group troups in. There are no entrance fees.
It is free for all and sundry as it is a promotional game for the young under 25 team that will be proceeding to Division 3.
Sports in Borno State had stalled for years because of the Boko haram insurgency and the toll it has taken on the lives of every day individuals. Businesses stopped.
‘We are so happy’, enthuses a supporter. It is a sign of victory and simultaneously a new era for Borno.
Lives stopped and sports had to stop. But for the first time in years, a football match commenced and sport lovers are thrilled. A sign that Borno, a state plagued by terrorist attacks, is making a comeback to its old self.
A band plays nearby, urging players on as the match begins.
The roars and groans continue as the match ends with the El-Kanemi warriors junior team, El-Kanemi Babes winning.
‘We are so happy’, enthuses a supporter. It is a sign of victory and simultaneously a new era for Borno. There has been a football match. One of many, the people hope.