The busy month of September continues. Eric began organizing a basketball and soccer tournament for youth back in July, and it started this past weekend. So Emma, Anders (the education volunteer in Itasy, located near Eric) headed to help out. Emma and Anders did a fantastic job reffing the basketball, Eric kept score and fouls, and I timed. The title of this post comes from our lack of technical knowledge of the game of basketball in Malagasy, so it pretty much just degenerated into saying tsy mety (not ok) and then acting out whatever the foul was. Anders demonstrating a bear hug from behind got a pretty big laugh from players and spectators alike. The basketball tournament was for 14-17 year old girls, with one fun game for guys of the same age. And the whole thing took place this weekend. The soccer tournament was reffed by some Malagasy volunteers who have experience, and that one goes on until the end of the month.
I think this was the most “culture shock” I have experienced here. Sporting events have some pretty serious differences here. Things went really well on Saturday. They ran so smoothly, and we were all on such a high hanging out together and seeing the kids having a good time. So the prelims of the girls were Saturday, and then on Sunday we had the guys’ game at 1 and then the girls finals at 3. We knew the guys would be a little more physical, but what we were unprepared for was the end of the game. 2 minutes in to the fourth quarter, things are starting to heat up and get physical, and one of the guys swings an elbow at another. The next thing I knew, there were two guys up on tables taking the nets down and there were fans all over the court. In slow motion, Anders blew the whistle when the guys took a swing (didn’t make contact, by the way) and the ball went out of bounds. One of the coach’s had wanted a time out when they had possession next, so Anders called that. But then the coaches came over to the table where Eric and I were sitting, and the guys helping run the tournament, and started having a discussion about sports in Madagascar, and everyone understood that the game was over. With 8 minutes to go. I just stood there with my mouth gaping open like a trout, completely unaware of how everything descended into anarchy in 30 seconds.
So we wrote that off, shook ourselves out, and started the next game. Well, 3 minutes in to the fourth quarter of the championship game, on of the girls on the team that was down took a dive and began grabbing her knee, even though no one touched here. This was the other weird thing in Mada: every injury is assumed a cramp, so people are immediately out there pulling and pushing your legs around to try and work it out. If anyone actually gets injured, that is the ABSOLUTE LAST THING you want to do. The lifeguard in me was cringing every time. So there had been a few “injuries” prior to that where this occurred, but this time the girl was crying and didn’t want to get up. So the coach piggybacked her I presume to the doctor or home or something. Also weird thing: all of the fans crowded around her just staring, a complete mob. And people started playing on the courts while she was still down. Then, the next thing I knew, everyone was crowding around the table with the trophy on it, fans, players, coaches, everyone. So it was complete anarchy again. And we were going to have a ceremony and everything, but then the team with the uninjured player (who were ahead before the injury) lifted their captain up on their shoulders and accepted the trophy. Apparently the team with the injury threw a fit and forfeited, even though they had enough people to keep playing. And from the moment of the injury until the accepting of the trophy lasted about one minute.
Anders told us later that he was at a pro basketball game in Tana and they had to stop the game because fans ended up fighting on the court. So we learned that fans are far too involved, and that sportsmanship is not so good. We are hoping to continue to do this in Miarinarivo and Ampefy, a whole region wide tournament. And have halftime programs about nutrition and sportsmanship. Anders taught PE for a bit in the states, and has a good handle on the kinds of things that are lacking in the education system here. We have him for another year, so this could be really great.
Alright, back to the grind tomorrow.