Magic in the Air

Maddi McGirr - Senegal


November 9, 2018

Today I am sharing a creative piece from the Final football match I went to a few nights ago. The teams playing were my street (Ndoutt) vs another street (Fogne) in my town, Tivaouane. I wanted to share the atmosphere with you as it was something so great and powerful it deserves to be experienced by others and I hope I expressed that well in this writing. Enjoy!

You can hear the chanting from morning onwards. Young children running excitedly through the sand tracks to buy noisemakers with their 100cfa. That’s when the hype commences. All through Tivaouane supporters wear their green and white Ndoutt t-shirts. Exchanging score estimates and grants of luck onto players. The day progresses slowly as an air of anticipation hangs over the quadrant.
7pm.
Supporters, family and friends scatter across the streets as they head towards the stadium. Cheers and shouts reverberate off the walls of buildings. The entrance to the stadium opens up into a wide space packed with spectators anxious to get in and get seats.
Inside, children sing and dance on the stands, sellers drift through the crowd and present sweet satchets of créme and water. A sort of electricity runs through the stands as everyone waits for the matches to start.

The first match begins, the younger team playing for the cup. The atmosphere is vibrant but people are mostly disengaged, waiting for the match to finish so that the teams we came to watch can start. During penalties the energy picks up again and as one team scores and another team misses the crowd is filled with a burst of spirit to cheer for our team.
The final teams enter – Ndoutt first, Fogne second. The team chants start up and a new lease of liveliness opens up among the crowd. Pride pulses through, in the singing, in the cheering, in the being.
After some time, the match begins. Everyone watches with such intensity, you become wrapped up in the game like nothing else outside of the stadium walls even matter anymore. It seems like the entire population of Tivaouane is present, and it feels like everyone is together.

The players move with such a force, like human bowling balls heading for the target, determined to reach the goals regardless of who they knock down. There is something so powerful in their drive, a thirst for victory encompassed in their movements as a team. Whenever the ball moves into the quarter by the goal, the spectators shift and everyone is on the edge of their seats.
Goal.
Fireworks erupt and everyone is up. Up and cheering and singing and smiling. Joy radiates from the stands like rays from the sun. This happens three times. Each time the cheers get louder and smiles get bigger. Flares go off and the drums get louder. The dancers dance faster and the children blow their noisemakers more fiercely. The air is ecstatic, something like fire courses through the crowd and an overwhelming sense of happiness unites everyone there.
Ndoutt 3, Fogne 0.

1am
The streets are flooded with family awaiting the return of players, content spread across their faces , endless streams of music flowing in surround sound. Children sing their chants and women take watch. Motorcycles ride wild and people make noise on every road.
Then home, a calm inhabits the air and an obscene sense of bliss washes over. A win. An immense showcase of spirit and culture. A buzz that lingers for three of four days after than cannot be interrupted by any.
Ndoutt – ku jel ndam bi.

Maddi McGirr