On my first week in Thiès, I got to experience the Derby; is the “classical game” like a Madrid-Barcelona. It really seemed it was a Champions League game here at Thiès. Drums and music made the stadium vibrate. People screaming…. It was quite an atmosphere!

The soccer field is a sand field. There is “esplanade” on one side, and for the rest, people just sit down around the soccer field in plastic chairs to be rented for 100F. Sellers pass buy selling peanuts, tuba coffee (coffee with spices and A LOT of sugar), frozen juice in a plastic bag. The entry to the match costs 500 F. The kids and people that cannot afford the entrance fee climb up the walls, trees, or put bricks one on top of another and try to see the game from behind the walls.

This game is part of  a tournament, I was told, that started after their independence. During the 3 months of summer break (Jul-Oct), to keep the kids and young men busy and hopefully out of mischief. In Thiès there are 94 teams from different leagues (depending on the age group) from all the neighborhoods.  Most know each other from the neighborhoods, from school, from University. There are usually 4 games almost every evening starting at 16:00 (for the lower leagues) and the last game finishing at almost 1 am (the last game of the day is usually for the “best teams”).

It is a funny juxtaposition between the seriousness of the game and the passion from the fans, and the teasing going on between players and the followers (since they know each other). The public would scream and tease the players, even at times the referee. It is somehow very “familiar”, almost school-like-way the way the players and fans interact with one another .

At the end of the game, Abou –my friend and player of the AFC Dixième, one of the teams of the Derby— gave me his sports bag to carry when we got out of the stadium. I felt like a “water-boy” or in this case “water-girl”. I did not mind, I thought he was tired and he did not want to carry his bag. I just felt it was a funny position to be in, coming from a culture where it is usually the other way around that a “gentleman” carries the bags of girls, or at least carry their own bag and don’t give their bags for a girl to carry. I later on realized it was meant as a compliment. All the kids felt honored if they had the “honor” to carry their heroes bags, water bottle, or other belongings. That is how I should have felt. When I realized that, I couldn’t help but laugh. How funny and sweet.

As Abou walked into the street, everyone was commenting a pass he had made, as the big event of the night. And when he entered our neighborhood’s street, he was greeted by everyone as a hero. The whole scenario was very bright although the night was dark. It was delightful to experience how people celebrate these “small events”, which was actually THE event of the week. This joyful and celebration spirit was contagious. I also found myself with some type of glee from this atmosphere surrounding me. The streets of the Dixième were filled with cheerful people.

It was a very nice way to start my stay here in Senegal. A very warming and joyful first impression of the life in Thiès.

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2 Antworten to “The DERBY”

  1. Matthias Görgen Says:

    schön von dir zu lesen ! Du klingt interessant und zeugt von viel Empathie mit der Jugend in Thiès. Herzliche Grüße und weiterhin viele nette Begegnungen wünscht Matthias.

  2. Ann Waters-Bayer Says:

    Du kriegst offensichtlich eine Menge vom Leben und der Jugendkultur in Thiès mit. Wir wünschen dir weiterhin viele schöne Erlebnisse und freuen uns darauf, dich im Mai nächtes Jahres beim Agrecol-Wochenende in Göttingen wieder zu sehen.

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