A group of children in their school uniforms gather around the school’s football pitch. Among them are children spectators from another school who watch by the sidelines; about 4 or 5 of them. They watch in awe and curiosity. It may be that they had come all the way just to see Mara play.
Different teachers walk past the football pitch once in a while. Sometimes, they stay to watch for a minute or two before taking their leave. Other times, they just stare at the playing field as they walk past. The children cheer on their respective teams and once in a while they ridicule a player that gets reckless with the ball.
“Maradona!” they shout, whenever Mara gets hold of the ball.
The players all play with determination to win. Mara’s team play with their school shirts on. The other team play with their shirts off. As they play, rain starts falling. They all play barefooted with legs being stained with dust.
“Penalty!” a section of the audience say.
“Ojoro! It is a lie! No be any penarity.” one of the audience says in vernacular. A teacher calls his name and he begins to speak correct English.
“I swear, the referee just want Mara to score again,” he says.
“Penalty!” the referee, who is a primary five student, two classes ahead of the playing teams, utter.
The rain begins to stop. Mara stands akimbo and looks directly into the goalkeeper’s eyes. The goalkeeper hops from left to right repeatedly, but Mara’s eyes are already transfixed on his.
“If you don’t catch this ball and Mara scores again ehn! You will not keep for us again,” the owner of the ball, who happens to not be on Mara’s team—he most have underestimated her—says in anger.
Mara walks a few steps backward, and the suspense in the field intensifies. The referee gives the greenlight. At this time, the sun is disappearing into the clouds and everywhere begins to change colour. Mara runs towards the ball and kicks it hard.
“Goal!” the audience supporting Mara’s team erupts with joy.
Maradona, they call her. Mara Dona, the daughter of Dona Bello, the second. The first female football player in Gwada community has done it again.
Read Also==>“Asiri” — A Short Story by Muhammad Haruna.