Locally, most taxi drivers are known for playing bawo as a way of killing time as they wait for customers or offering hookers ‘lifts’ in exchange for ‘quick sessions’ as they ‘knock off’ in the wee hours.
But last week, a Gibratltan taxi driver proved that they can also make good footballers when he inspired a semi-professional side Lincoln Red Imps to cause a big upset by beating Scottish giants Celtic in a Uefa Champions League match—and that’s what makes upsets and underdogs stories so magical.
Everyone loves the underdog. Few sports stories capture an audience’s attention like the plucky underdog who somehow, someway, reaches the pinnacle of their sport like it was in the ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ when Muhammad Ali, using the rope n’ dope style, knocked out an odds-on favourite and the then reigning world heavyweight champion George Foreman .
Whether it’s an upstart team knocking off an established champion, or an unheralded athlete pulling off a massive upset over what looks like an unbeatable opponent, underdog stories can resonate for months, years, and decades.
We all cheered when little Iceland, a team from a country with a population of about 300 000, basked in the global limelight when they defied all odds to beat the Three Lions of England, famously knocking them out of the Euro 2016.
How about Portugal, who despite being led by one of the world’s best footballers—Cristiano Ronaldo, were ranked outsiders, but still found the inspiration to win the tournament?
And as I as relived the 2016 Euro action at the weekend, I wondered whether our local players learnt anything from watching the games, in terms of tactics and style. Or it is the same stuff about copying those funny haircut styles or putting on gloves when it is scorching hot?
Nicknames such as Puyet, Sanchez and Griezzman have started emerging among our local footballers even when they can’t even perform basics such as ball control. Uloliwe, uloliwewayidudula, neng’esiza hah! (oh yes, the train is pushing) Glory be to God.