Assalamu alaikum; peace be upon you all, and a belated Eid mubarak too.
We held an Eid barbecue at our local mosque yesterday. It was opened up to the whole community; not just the local Muslims, but our neighbours, friends, and a few dignitaries as well.
Wanting it to be special for the children, a number of activities were organised, including a bouncy castle, a tug of war, a Qur’anic recitation event and – I just couldn’t resist this one – a ‘Beat the Goalie’ competition.
'Beat the Goalie': the grand final! My able deputy stares down the barrel...
For such a competition to be a success, there are a few essential ingredients. I can think of five.
No problem here. Three penalties per turn, anyone scoring all three to write their names in the Hall of Fame and take their place in the grand final later in the day. The queue to take part was predictably long at all times.
(2) A space.
The majority of the events took place inside the large prayer room, with the bouncy castle at the opposite end. Plenty of space, but a need to be very careful.
(3) A ball.
Easy enough in normal circumstances, but given the surroundings, a sponge ball was deemed to be appropriate.
(4) A goal.
Fortunately, a member of the community bought two of these as a gift for the mosque. They arrived less than 24 hours before the event and one was promptly assembled in time for the big day.
(5) A goalkeeper.
Well, you can guess who took on this role – at least until my knees couldn’t take any more! (I didn’t quite make it to the grand final myself…)
The event unfolded in a manner entirely in keeping with the spirit of The Victory Boys. It is impossible to measure the enjoyment experienced by the children who took part, whether firing blanks in front of goal or bagging a hat-trick of penalties and making yours truly look a little silly in the process. By the end of the activity, the main task was to prevent the enthusiasm of the grown-up spectators from turning it into a competition for themselves!
The second goal was erected today, and now occupies a space at the opposite end of the yard from the first. It is the same yard in which I imagined many of the scenes from the opening pages of my story, with Junayd, Ibrahim & co. tearing around delightedly and giving everything to score between the brick-stack goalposts, consumed for a moment in the joy of sport, and at the same time unknowingly cementing bonds of brotherhood.
The yard, the goals, are ready.
The new goal, born today.
Once upon a time there were brick-stacks for goalposts...
The other end. (Note the bricks in the corner).
Taking a breather at the barbecue, a neighbour pointed out to me the rear of her house, adjacent to the yard. I mentioned The Victory Boys to her, and my hope that her greenhouse would be safe from footballs. She reassured me that she only had a pretty resilient peep of chickens out the back; it was next door’s greenhouse.
Mr Bateman’s house, perhaps?