The title of this blog post is influenced by the fact that I am have become locked into the Euro 2012 tournament for the past three days. I am just watching the passionate Croatians getting the better of the dogged Irish. It has been (and will remain) a complete distraction for me, as I am a hopelessly addicted football (soccer) fan. If I was to give a score for this past week, however, I would say that it might be something along the lines of Jamaican Politicians 3, Jamaican People 1, although the people’s goal was really an “own goal.” And in the case of our home-grown don Christopher “Dudus” Coke – well, the U.S. Government kept a clean sheet, 1-0.
Mr. Coke received a 23-year sentence in a New York court this week, for racketeering and assault. This prompted local journalists to rush down to the tired and dusty Tivoli Gardens neighborhood in West Kingston, where large bullet holes still pock-mark some of the buildings after the security forces’ May 2010 assault on the area. This is where, in the “good/bad old days,” Mr. Coke and his “Presidential Click” held sway. And yet, Mr. Coke’s criminal career, his flight, pursuit, capture, extradition and now incarceration will linger on in Jamaica, like the sickening smell of a dead cat in our garbage bin even after it had been removed. (Yes, our dogs killed a cat one night last week. They have a penchant for hunting. I am sorry, cat-lovers…) The residents’ responses to Mr. Coke’s sentence ranged from angry tears to shrugged shoulders.
Coincidentally, I think, Mr. Mattathias Schwartz of the New Yorker magazine produced another piece on the Tivoli Gardens “incursion” (this is the euphemism used by the Jamaican media for a military attack on Tivoli Gardens, when security forces pursued Mr. Coke and over seventy people were killed). See the link to Mr. Schwartz’s article below. His first article on the Tivoli Gardens attack, published in December 2011, “revealed” information that everyone in Kingston already knew – that a surveillance plane of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security circled over Kingston; embarrassingly, then National Security Minister Dwight Nelson flatly denied what we had all seen with our own eyes. The second Schwartz article alleges that, according to the U.S. Government, the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) “fired mortars” at Tivoli Gardens; and the JDF conceded that indeed they did. “Bombs on Tivoli” shouted the Gleaner’s headline on Friday; and they got another confirmation from the JDF, who noted that the so-called “bombs” did not target people or buildings. Now, the U.S. Government plan to search for Mr. Coke’s assets, amounting to a possible US$1.5 million to be forfeited. It’s all about the Benjamins, as a hip hop artist once said…
The Budget Debate dragged on to its inevitable conclusion: some more tinkering with the taxes, resulting in the Budget, Mark Two. Remember, Politicians vs People and, as always, the Politicians won. The local media dutifully broadcast and reported on two lengthy speeches, firstly by Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller and then by Finance Minister Peter Phillips – redux. In the background, government Members of Parliament twiddled their writing implements, adjusted the collars of their fashionable outfits, browsed their blackberries, and even stuffed food in their mouths. They kept their right hands at the ready though, so that they could thump their desks in thunderous approval of every announcement or political point scored by the speakers. Journalists remained at their posts, putting all other news on hold, tweeting and reporting small chunks of the changes and announcements – all of which could have been neatly wrapped up in a half hour presentation by Dr. Phillips. But, the public and media endured a hesitant, labored (almost tired) presentation, punctuated frequently by witty remarks, muttered insults and loud guffaws from both sides of the house. The Prime Minister, whose speech took place the day before Dr. Phillips’ revisions, consisted of 25% accusing the former administration of creating Jamaica’s economic woes; 35% ranting about child abuse and how “disgraceful” and “shameful” it is; another 25% of interruptions, etc; and about 15% actual substance. As broadcaster Dionne Jackson-Miller complained in her blog, why are these speeches so long?
Some of the “softening” measures adopted in Budget Version Two were the lifting of General Consumption Tax on school books “approved by the Ministry of Education.” Having worked for eight years in the book business, I know full well that we are already approaching the dreaded “school book season,” when anxious parents descend on the bookstores with book lists in hand for the upcoming academic year starting September. Of course, I agree with Mr. Steadman Fuller of Kingston Bookshop, who said on radio last week that the idea of producing an approved book list out of the hundreds of titles that appear on school lists each year by the middle of this month is completely impossible. And is the Bible, which appears on almost every school list, an approved text book? By the way, tax remains on beef patties.
And as for the child abuse issue, as columnist and common-sense businessman James Moss-Solomon observed in the Sunday Observer today, “The poor of this country are no more intentionally depraved than the animals on television that must find ways to survive even as their natural habitat is shrinking.” It’s all a part of the general desperation that afflicts large proportions of the country’s population – including the Prime Minister’s own constituency: Majesty Gardens, for example, which was prominently featured in recent television reports. One could not find a less appropriate name for that place.
Meanwhile, in the Land of Bling it seems anything goes (see link below). Everywhere one looks there are models strutting and posing for Caribbean Fashion Week. Last week I asked where the actual economic value was in this “fashion industry.” How much is it worth – how many jobs in Jamaica does it create? I would love to know…
And last night, our very own sprint champion crashed his car again – just around daybreak in Kingston’s Half Way Tree – just a little fender bender, returning from a “popular party.” He is “at home sleeping” now, his publicist says. The inexorable build-up to the London Olympics seems to go on for ever; surely the athletes’ jewelry boxes must be full of diamonds by now?
But several bouquets are waiting to be handed out… Perhaps the Reggae Boyz would prefer something more macho, but congratulations to Theodore Whitmore and the Jamaican football team for their win in the first game of their qualifying campaign for the next World Cup. Pity you had to let in the Guatemalan goal in extra time, though. But 2-1 is, indeed, a respectable score.
Well now! Ms. Janet Silvera of the Gleaner, always the epitome of Jamaican warmth and hospitality, is the first Jamaican to win the Marcia Vickery-Wallace Memorial Award for excellence in travel tourism.
Talking of Montego Bay (Ms. Silvera’s neck of the woods) I was pleased to learn that its Free Zone is set for a a 50,000 square foot expansion - “bursting at the seams” as my favorite Government Minister Phillip Paulwell put it – and that LIME is to give up the telecoms monopoly in the Zone. LIME Chairman Chris Dehring noted, “This partnership with the Government for the development of the ICT and telecoms services signals our total embrace of competition in the sector.” That is good; and I hope for the sake of competition in Jamaica on the whole that LIME does not suffer further great losses as it competes with Digicel. Excellent work Minister Paulwell too, on moving forward with net billing and awarding licenses to those who wish to sell their excess electricity back to the grid. Woot woot!
A pat on the back for another Minister – Justice Minister Mark Golding – for taking a step in the right direction with the formation of the Major Organized Crime and Anti-Corruption Task Force (MOCA – a new acronym to remember) on Tuesday. This single anti-corruption body makes a lot of sense to me. Let’s hope the whole process does not take too long; a committee is to advise on this matter by the end of the month which is a good timeframe. After that, it will go to Cabinet. This is something that the Contractor General had recommended to the Government and Opposition more than two years ago.
I am also impressed by Jamaica’s first “all-green” residence, somewhere in St. Elizabeth I believe. It is quite a large house, and completely “off the grid” – swimming pool and all.
Another positive… The Independent Commission of Investigation (INDECOM) that investigates police abuses appears to be gaining confidence, since the Supreme Court ruling in its favor.It has taken over the investigation into one of the more disturbing incidents (well, they are all disturbing) – the shooting death of sixteen-year-old Vanessa Kirkland in a car on March 20. Three policemen implicated in the shooting are to face identification parades next week. Meanwhile, the tireless and determined head of Jamaicans for Justice Dr. Carolyn Gomes joined the residents of Jarrett Lane in a peaceful demonstration on Friday evening in protest at the shooting death of Police Youth Club member Kavorn Schue a week ago. Head of the police Community Safety Branch Senior Superintendent James Forbes, a man whose sincerity I do not question, has a very hard job now as he seeks to mend fences in the community.
It’s tough being a talk show host. Ms. Barbara Gloudon patiently endured an onslaught of calls from irate rum-drinkers on Thursday. They were furious about the sudden increase in the price of white rum – which, like rice and peas, chicken and beef patties, is a Jamaican staple. Ms. Gloudon defended herself valiantly – the callers seemed to expect her to explain the many and various prices of large and small bottles. Let’s hope that things settle down and that “unscrupulous persons” (to use Government jargon) are not pricing their goods over the top (and often not handing over the Government tax – this does happen). Yes, you know who you are…
Time is getting on and there is more to talk about of course. Last but not least, however, may I send appreciation and thanks to Miss Jamaica Universe 2012, Ms. Chantal Zaky, who will be supporting the fund-raising efforts of Jamaica AIDS Support for Life (JASL). Ms. Zaky will hold a press conference tomorrow (Monday June 11) at JASL offices on Upper Musgrave Avenue, Kingston at 12:00 noon. Please come along and support. More on this anon, but suffice it to say, for now, that JASL are quietly doing incredible work with those Jamaicans who are most vulnerable to HIV/AIDS and who are routinely marginalized by society. They need much more funds to be able to continue this heroic work. PLEASE support them in any way you can; financial donations will be most gratefully received. Visit their website at
- Euro 2012: Why Can’t America Get Behind the World’s Most Popular Sport? (bleacherreport.com)
- It’s OK to like football and soccer. Really. (independentmail.com)
- Euro 2012: Embrace the Bar Life and Enjoy Games with Fellow Fans (bleacherreport.com)
- As Jamaican Drug Lord is Sentenced, U.S. Still Silent on Massacre (newyorker.com)
: A Massacre in Jamaica (mattatiasschwartz.com)
: Dudus dollars wanted (Jamaica Gleaner)
: Bombs on Tivoli (Jamaica Gleaner)
: Dionne Jackson Miller’s blog
: Tax package softened (Jamaica Observer)
: Lisa Hyper at Caribbean Fashion Week
: James Moss-Solomon column
: Janet Silvera receives major tourism award
: Anger over Jarrett Lane police shooting lingers
: Deeply wounded (Jamaica Gleaner)
- The British officer who changed policing in Jamaica (guardian.co.uk)
Well, it’s been a while since the Petchary has dared to write about her favorite football team, the illustrious Arsenal Football Club. The season so far has been one of nervous confusion and a feeling of unreality, as my team struggled in those nether regions of the Premier League table – strange and frightening territory for my boys. Blogging about it would have just added to the misery.
Because, let’s face it, and I have to just say it: This was the Gunners‘ worst start to the season. Ever.
But now – if I can be so bold – things seem to be looking up, just a little. We are kind of comfortable in the top half, and although I have to admit we may not make it to the level of those Mancunians, this time around, we are putting in a decent show, at last. Things are all upside down in the League, and even the mightily arrogant Manchester United have looked strangely distracted, as if a flock of large, black birds had flown down and settled just behind the goal, cawing and pecking at the net. After slicing the poor Gunners into small pieces a few weeks ago, Rooney et al just got a taste of their own medicine – total humiliation at home in a Manchester derby, no less. And during that game, only Rooney seemed to care (and Sir Alex, of course, whose face got redder and who chewed his gum so hard I thought he might end up with a broken jaw).
So, plenty of drama all round. I don’t want any more, speaking personally as an Arsenal fan. I just want us to settle down and play consistently. And we can take more and more goals from the likes of Robin Van Persie – our stylish striker who just can’t stop scoring, and not only in the Premier League. RVP just floats across the field, arms extended, hands slightly spread to balance himself… and does some wondrous things. Delicious to watch. And maybe, who knows, Gervinho (he of the lovely round face, funny hairstyle) – who knows how to run at defenders quick and darting, and who set up two goals and scored one on Sunday against Stoke City. He might just come into his own.
Then there are the real youngsters – practically babes in arms – who acquitted themselves well in the Carling Cup today. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (eighteen), Ryo Myaichi (eighteen), Ignasi Miquel (nineteen), Emmanuel Frimpong (nineteen), Francis Coquelin (twenty), Nico Yennaris (who?… eighteen)… and so on. And Arsenal has one of the youngest goalkeepers around, Wojciech Szczesny (too many consonants in his name!) who is a remarkable talent for his age. My other favorite goalie, Brad Friedel, is old enough to be his Dad…
Oh, the joys of the Premier League. This season is looking more action-packed than ever, with many red cards held aloft, tiffs with managers a la Carlos Tevez, and (sadly) accusations of racist comments among players. But football is not a polite sport.
Who wants polite.
- The most exciting Premier League season, but for all the wrong reasons (footballfancast.com)
- EPL Hot 11: Van Persie, Balotelli, City Well Represented in Match Day 9 (bleacherreport.com)
- Arsenal have found their self belief, says Gervinho (guardian.co.uk)
- Park fires Arsenal into last eight (vanguardngr.com)
- Manchester Derby: Why So Easy? (football-talk.co.uk)
- Gratefulness (petchary.wordpress.com)
- Heskey urges players to report racism (BBC Sports)
At some point I know I am going to have to write about the massacre of Tivoli Gardens, one year ago. It is like a huge balloon full of water, so heavy it is about to burst. But for now, let me turn to the Petchary’s one big distraction (and great passion) – that is, football. And to be specific, the Arsenal Football Club, North London‘s finest.
Apart from the name of the club (which, if shortened, is rather a rude word in “English English“) there are some lovely players beginning with “A.” I hope they will be with us for another season, which again this year remained “trophyless” (an awkward non-word, but you know what I mean). No bloody silverware, again, and the Carling Cup slipping from our grasp – and won by a team which has now been relegated!
But there now, I have started picking at that wound again, and it is going to reopen. We Arsenal fans can’t help but feel bitter though, especially as we held doggedly on to second place through three quarters of the season – even snapping at ManU’s heels once or twice – only to slip determinedly down in the last three or four weeks, allowing both Chelsea and Manchester City to step over us, to end up fourth. How did that happen, Mr. Wenger? I’m tired of seeing you pursing your lips and thrashing angrily at the air as we miss yet another opportunity to score that elusive GOAL. I felt like thrashing angrily at you, on many occasions.
Well, we Arsenal fans have been accused of being whiners, and that’s exactly what I am doing, so I had better shut up. Let’s go then, A is for…
Andrei Arshavin. A small dynamo of an attacking midfielder, and hugely popular with the fans. He had a really bad patch half way through the season, but was looking very lively towards the end and played with determination and flair even in games we only drew (or lost, ugh). He has been a Gunner since 2009 and I really hope he sticks around. He has speed and great footwork at his best, darting and dribbling right up to the goal.
Young Andrei was born in St. Petersburg in pretty poor circumstances. Injured in a car accident as a child, his early years were tough. He was a naughty boy at school too, and got himself expelled. And hey, his thirtieth birthday is this weekend! He doesn’t look that “old.” But he started playing football really young, and in 2007 had a wonderful season scoring and assisting for his home town team, Zenit St. Petersburg. After Mr. Wenger had finally got hold of him, the diminutive Russian scored his first Arsenal goal against Blackburn Rovers in March 2009. In a terrific game against Liverpool last season, he scored all four goals for Arsenal in a game that ended 4-4. I remember it well, definitely a great highlight. Loud and raucous shouts in the Petchary household.
And do you remember that heavenly shot from thirty yards out against ManU last summer? There’s much more to come from Andrei, I feel sure. And he’s a great little team player. There are serious rumors that he may be lured away by fellow-Russian, the Chelski owner. Or back to St. Petersburg. I hope not!
Trivia question: What does Andrei Arshavin have a degree in?
Next: A is for Aaron Ramsey. A pale young Welshman who didn’t start playing until March this year; he suffered a broken leg, inflicted by Ryan Shawcross in a game against the ever-physical Stoke City. Poor Ramsey; it was quite a blow to him so early in his career. But he has come back gamely and is showing promise. He is a really versatile midfielder and can do all kinds of stuff when given the chance. And he is only twenty years old. He started his career with Cardiff City as their youngest ever player, sixteen years old. He became a Gunner in June 2008 and Mr. Wenger describes him as “a fantastic engine.” Well, not sure what his locomotive qualities are but I think I get it…
And he also scored against the much-loved (much-hated by me) Manchester United – his first goal this season! Well done. And let’s crown him Football King (or Prince, too young to be a King) of Wales. He was named Captain of the Welsh team earlier this year, although they played England and lost. He is now the permanent Wales captain, and their youngest ever. And he’s bilingual, a true Welsh speaker. Gwych, Aaron! (That means “great” in Welsh, but don’t ask me how to pronounce it).
Trivia question: What sport did Aaron play really well as a “young youth”? Hint: not football/soccer, of course. We know he was good at that.
OK, here’s another. Alexandre Song. Or to give him his full name, Alexandre Dmitri Song Billong, one of Mr. Wenger’s collection of Francophone players and a particular favorite of the Petchary’s. Very much a defensive midfielder, he is usually pretty solid – although he does have his “off” games, when he seems to hang his head, as he often does when things don’t go his way. He had a few fairly dreadful games this season, when my son and I have called out exasperatedly from the sofa, “Oh, Song!” And we weren’t asking for anyone to start warbling, either.
Song is really strong. Yes, I know that rhymes. He pushes furiously up and down midfield, head down, patiently scooping up the ball. He gets yellow cards a lot, like most defensive players, and then a dogged, resigned look crosses his face. He walks away, shoulders slumped, but soon cheers up again.
Song is 24 and he is from the Cameroon. He played for his country in the last World Cup. He was born in Douala, and had a pretty deprived childhood. There wasn’t much opportunity for a good footballer in Cameroon, and “Petit Song” (his nickname) moved to France and started playing for SC Bastia at the age of sixteen. Two years later he got married; he has two children. Then Arsenal bought him for a mere one million pounds.
But this season, something terrible happened to dear Alex. He dyed his hair yellow (not blond, yellow), then grew a beard and of course, that is yellow too. He had a very strange rush of blood to the head. He claims his wife likes it, and he was bored with his spiky locks, all the black footballers have them. Now his hair looks like a washing up pad that has scrubbed too many pots.
Apart from acquiring some great new players, I am hoping that Mr. Wenger might be able to use the time between seasons to persuade Alex to wash out that yellow stuff.
Trivia question: How many brothers and sisters does Song have? (Take a really wild guess).
And now to Abou Diaby. Tall, lanky, and just celebrated his 25th birthday. Diaby reminds me of a former Arsenal player I used to love, Patrick Veira; but he claims to be much less aggressive than Patrick, who used to have furious temper tantrums quite regularly (the dreaded “red mist”). Still, the same long-legged but surprisingly delicate touch on the ball. Monsieur Diaby (yes, another Francophone) has had a kind of on-and-off season, I would say. Moments of great clarity, and other days when he seemed bent on passing off the ball to the opposing team. Sigh. He has had some fitness problems but… well, when he scores the occasional goal, it is a beautiful thing to behold. So all is forgiven.
His first name is actually Vassiriki. Eh? And he is a Frenchman of Ivorian descent, and a central midfielder. He trained at the famous Clairefontaine Academy and played for a few French teams before he was honored with the Gunnership in 2006. He was a member of the tremendously pig-headed and pathetic French team that melted down in last year’s World Cup. Another sigh. The French national team seem to court drama (remember the Zidane head-butt?)
Trivia question: What religion is Abou Diaby? (Easy)
There is another “A” in Arsenal, finally. And that is the esteemed manager, Arsene Wenger. He has been described as “professorial,” whatever that means. And I am so thankful he doesn’t chew gum, like Sir Alex. So undignified. But I will write more about AW another time, when I have composed my thoughts. At the moment, I don’t feel kindly disposed towards him. My feelings may soften.
Now, the Petchary also loves Argentina. They are so rough and tough and full-blooded, not so much of that pretty stuff the pretty Brazilians do. So I read with interest an article in the newspaper, in which Diego Maradona and some other players were reminiscing about the good old days. I was struck by the headline, “Maradona teammates deny consciously taking drugs.” In the article, Diego’s former teammates are a little vague in their recollection, but Maradona himself puts it in his own inimitable way: ”What happened is that to play against Australia [in 1994] we were given a speedy coffee. They put something in the coffee and that’s why we ran more.” They were apparently given a choice – speedy water or speedy coffee.
I know what he means by a speedy coffee. I take one every morning to get my brain working in the office. And sometimes I do wish it had performance-enhancing ingredients.
Gunners forever!! Viva Argentina!!
No, dear football fans. No.
I am not talking about the Portuguese Cristiano Ronaldo – the one whose use of hair gel reaches ridiculous extremes, whose vanity knows no bounds, and who is fond of rolling his eyes to heaven. But of course, a remarkable striker.
Brazilian Ronaldo retired on Valentine’s Day this year. He has suffered from health problems and was struggling. In the later years of his career, he also battled weight gain, due to a thyroid condition, and many cruel jokes were made. He always had a chubby face, and gap teeth too.
“O Fenomeno” (wouldn’t it be great to have a name like that) was born in a suburb of Rio de Janeiro. Unlike Argentina’s Carlos Tevez, who grew up in a determinedly tough neighborhood of Buenos Aires, Ronaldo’s neck of the woods is relatively comfortable, with trees. And he has that reliable look of everyone’s favorite son – approachable, lovable, expecting the best out of life. And yet, he described his suburban upbringing as a life of poverty. I am not sure about that. Fans, can you enlighten me please – middle-class suburb, or poor favela?
Doesn’t a footballer deserve a middle-class upbringing, once in a while?
I read a quote from Ronaldo recently. He said that scoring goals was not his specialty, it was his “habit.” It sounds a little self-satisfied – complacent even – but it certainly was his habit for quite some time. Especially in the Spanish La Liga, where in the 2003/4 season he scored 34 goals, besides nine goals in the Champions League. For Barcelona, he scored 34 goals in 37 games. And all that was after a stunning record at PSV Eindhoven, where he scored 55 goals in 57 appearances.
His wildly prolific career was at its peak from 1996 right up to 2005; in the early years of this century, Ronaldo could do no wrong. The 2002 season, in which Brazil won the World Cup, was a remarkable comeback for Ronaldo, who badly injured his knee in 1999 and again the following year. He won the Golden Boot for top scorer in the tournament. Just when other strikers thought it was safe to aspire to his greatness, there came the 2002 second incarnation of Ronaldo, a “Galactico” (superstar from another galaxy perhaps) signed up by Real Madrid that same year. He scored twice in his debut game for this ever-ambitious, PR-obsessed team that now boasts the above-mentioned glamor boy, Cristiano Ronaldo.
When the Petchary visited Rio de Janeiro some years ago, she was sitting in the open window of the restaurant where Antonio Carlos Jobim wrote “The Girl from Ipanema.” A somewhat Bohemian man in a baggy sweater ambled along the sidewalk, hands in pockets (a writer? a dreamer? a painter? a bossanova aficionado?). Right behind him, an energetic man half-riding a bicycle, with wide cheekbones and tufts of curly hair (I can see his face now, several years later) broke into a seraphic smile on spotting us (a think-bubble came up – “tourists”!) and held up a complicated array of clothes hangers. On the gold and green jerseys, the number nine (Ronaldo’s number) shone.
And yes, the Petchary was such a sucker. She almost immediately forked out forty U.S. Dollars (which maybe was a bit too much) for a Ronaldo jersey for her son. At the time, Ronaldinho – a few years younger, with a bobbing pony-tail and laser-like free kick – was already starting to shine and possibly rival his fellow countryman with almost the same name. And there were some of his jerseys too. But…
But Ronaldo was a true football great. Now retired from his injuries, his accolades and glory, and even to some extent his extraordinarily complex love life, at the age of 34 our genial hero is looking benevolently towards the future of Brazilian football.
In particular, he is deeply impressed by a skinny nineteen year-old from Santos with a pointed/Mohican hairstyle by the name of Neymar da Silva Santos Junior, who just scored two very nice goals against Scotland in a friendly. Several European clubs are polishing off their millions-0f-pounds checkbooks in anticipation.
Then there is Paulo Henrique Chagas de Lima, simply known as Ganso, an attacking midfielder also at Santos. At age 21, he has already had a few injury problems, and Ronaldo describes him as “more withdrawn,” but then there is also Lucas, who plays for Sao Paulo.
But hold on a minute, isn’t Lucas a Liverpool midfielder? He’s pretty good. No, this is another, younger Lucas. But Liverpool Lucas isn’t old? No, this is an eighteen-year-old wunderkind who scored a hat trick against Uruguay’s Under-20 team recently.
Three strong picks from Ronaldo. And there will be more to come, impossibly young and self-assured, with the big clubs already hedging their bets and working on possible deals. The Petchary hopes their careers will be long and glorious, although some will inevitably fall by the wayside and burn out too soon.
Meanwhile, Ronaldo has made another important change in his life recently. At the end of 2010, after the birth of his fourth child, he announced he had got himself a vasectomy. It’s called simplifying your life.
- Ronaldo: The Legend of The O Fenomeno (sportingo.com)
- Brazilian legend Ronaldo: Always Real Madrid over Barcelona for me (tribalfootball.com)
- Retired Ronaldo weighs himself on television (sports.yahoo.com)
- Ronaldo: Neymar, Ganso And Lucas Are The Future Of Brazilian Football (goal.com)
- Is Brazil Star Neymar the Next Pele, Ronaldinhio and Ronaldo Rolled into One? (bleacherreport.com)
From time to time, the Petchary will feel compelled to write about one of her passions… Football. Yes, the World Cup is over, but the English Premier League is alive and well and, as usual, becoming more engrossing as Christmas comes onto the horizon. The Petchary has already declared her allegiance to a certain North London team, but has to take pause to celebrate the marvelous skill and engaging endeavor of Mr. Carlos Tevez, currently wearing that pale sky blue of Manchester City (like the Cambridge University colors – and as an Oxford graduate the Petchary takes exception to that particular shade). He was sold by the irascible Sir Alex Ferguson of Manchester United but is still living in the same brash Midlands city. And working wonders.
Now the Petchary also has to declare a great fondness for Argentine football – gritty, attacking, never say die. She was saddened by their sudden and unexpected loss to the squeaky clean Germans in the World Cup. But let us move on. There is something endearing about Mr. Tevez, who is now atop the list of Premier League strikers, having scored in almost every game he has played in so far. What a treasure he is.
Why is he so appealing? Apart from his obvious skills on the field, Mr. Tevez is no pretty boy. He doesn’t spend hours in front of a mirror, tweaking his hair with hair gel, like one of his former colleagues at Manchester United. In fact, until he was shorn recently (the Petchary disapproves of his very dull new haircut) his hair was extremely wayward, held in place with difficulty by an assortment of hair bands. Sometimes it hung down in greasy strands, as if he hadn’t washed it for weeks. Along with his thick black eyebrows, and most remarkably his mouth, full of teeth just a bit too large and crooked, he is not – nor ever could be – Mr. Glamorous. And the Petchary loves him just the way he is!
Did you know Tevez isn’t his real name? He was born Carlos Alberto Martinez in 1984 and grew up on a public housing complex – four tall high-rise buildings – in Buenos Aires nicknamed Fuerte Apache, after the gangster movie “Fort Apache the Bronx.” Much like some of Kingston’s neighborhoods named after battlegrounds, this tells you something about the neighborhood. Young Carlos’ nickname became El Apache.
You may also have noticed a really bad scar on Mr. Tevez’ neck. I learnt that it was actually from a childhood injury – he was scalded by boiling water in the kitchen. He could certainly afford to get cosmetic surgery done on it, but apparently he does not wish to, so that he does not forget his tough urban roots. We should never forget our roots, wherever we come from, should we?
What brings Tevez joy is his goals. It’s that look of sheer delight, his enormous crazy smile, and his uninhibited, almost childlike celebration that is infectious. Here he is, celebrating his second goal over newcomers Blackpool on October 18. Once again, those big teeth come in useful…
And a rather belated congratulations to the bustling, eager striker from Fuerte Apache: on the birth of your little daughter Katia, earlier this year. Life is good for Mr. Tevez.
Footnote: The only regret the Petchary has is that he was not snapped up by the (currently third place) team Arsenal, where her allegiance lies…When they had the chance. Sigh.