A Battle of Fours and the Lions on Repeat!

On the evening of May 29, 2021, all classes of IFUMSA came together to celebrate the opening ceremony of the IFUMSA Health Week, themed: “Gender-Based Violence (GBV).”

The main highlight was the final match of the Wale Okediran Football Competition between the two Part 4 classes.

However, a close observer would have noticed that there seemed to be two castes of supporters, with a larger proportion of these activists on the side of the older part 4 class, the Excelsiors, and the much smaller tribe supporting the House of Roaring Lions.

Frankly, if matches were won merely by the number of supporters, the Warriors would have slain these Lions and used their leather for wallets. Such was the stand against this house of Lions whose suave and overbearing confidence prior, even to the first kick, of the entire competition had caused an organisation-wide lack of support for them and their football team.

The lineups were announced, team photos were taken, the Honorable Vice-Chancellor of the University, Prof E.O Ogunbodede, played the honorary first kick of the game, and the match kicked off with resounding cheers from the stands.

But, trust this reporter, this is no David and Goliath story, and, save for poor finishing on the part of the Lions, the game would have gone to bed in the first ten minutes of the game. The centre forward, Japheth, a prolific influence in the former final, was largely unimpressive during this game’s stretch. Whilst the Stalwarts sent chances over the bar (or lateral to it), the Warriors racked up shots on target, stacking up to three corners in the first twenty minutes of the half as they began to grow into the game. 

A particularly interesting mini-battle on the pitch was between a father and his son, the former and current Directors of Sport — Oluwanoni and Babajide. They were at loggerheads until the curtains fell early for the former, who exited due to an injury late in the first half of the match. This exit was a blow for the Excelsior players who, through their more accurate attempts, had managed to beat the most excellent keeper of the Lions, Paulo, prior to the loss of their defensive bedrock. The first half ended with the Warriors on the front foot with a boiling hope — from players and supporter alike — of vanquished lions at the end of the match.

This united hope brings to mind Robert Heinlein’s quote: “If a grasshopper tries to fight a lawnmower, one may admire his courage but not his judgement.” 

In the second half, all these strongholds of wishes and dreams were promptly mowed down and crushed by the iron wheel of the inevitable, seemingly superhuman nature of the Lions. Their supporters, initially silenced in the first half, found their thunder in the second and didn’t stop until the match ended with a turnaround in their favour. 

All this, precipitated by an equalising stunner from Solomon and a warrior-slaying header from Sheriff, who happened to be in the right place at the right time. Those celebrations were suddenly resounding from the smaller segment in the stands, and they made up in volume what they lacked in quantity of producers.

As the dust settled, trophies and medals were presented to the football players and track athletes who performed before the match and during its interval. The Lions retained their title and bragging rights for yet another year whilst the large tribe of Excelsior supporters and players trudged home in disappointment. This, with no relief at all for the jibing they had suffered from the House of Lions and, alas, will continue to endure for another season while wondering about a different outcome had the Excelsior captain not been effectively and prematurely retired.  

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