There’s lots of crap going on in the world right; especially where this blog post is focused on. But I’m not here to talk about the crap. We get enough crap with news, papers, the Internet, our friends and families. The Penguin has decided to talk about something good today. And not his holidays. Not holidays past or holidays upcoming. Just something good that made me smile. Hopefully it will make you smile as well.
This is a story that takes place in Saudi Arabia and Africa. My initial readers will know that I lived in Saudi Arabia for 5 years. And for the most part, I did enjoy my time there. I met a lot of great people, joined a lot of different clubs, and learned a great deal about another culture and myself at the same time.
One of the clubs I joined was the Khobar Expats Football Club. Football, in this case, means soccer. Formed in 1998, it was well into its 10th year when I joined the team Blarney Spice, an amalgamation of two former teams: The Spice Boys and Blarney United. The league was for men living in the area with anything other than a Saudi passport. Games were every Thursday afternoon during the cooler autumn and spring seasons. We would have 2 mini seasons per year and I played for 3 years, or 6 seasons.
As you can imagine, there were a variety of body shapes playing in this league. This was a fun league, after all. Competitive, because that’s how boys get when we play any kind of game; but not everyone was the chiseled specimen that is sitting at this keyboard and is typing this out for you. Anyways, a little off topic there.
You also know I moved to Dubai 3 years ago now, and in that time, the Khobar Expats Football Club has had to disband and shut down for one reason or another. Without that club, and the great group of guys I met, my time in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia would have been a lot emptier. I still talk to many of the guys to this day, and one of them, who I also worked with, is one of the best friends I’ve ever had and lives here in Dubai now with his wife and daughter.
The truth is, I needed something like this when I was in Saudi. I think, really, I needed this sort of thing my whole life. Many of my best memories revolve around sports and the friendships made and lessons learned. I learned discipline, teamwork, creativity, respect, and many other traits I hopefully still possess. And let’s not forget the health benefits that come from playing sports. And I know I’m not the only one who needed, or needs, something like this.
When the league disbanded there were many sad faces. But a few days ago, there were many more smiles. Well, I smiled when I found out so I’m only assuming other people were smiling too. One of the guys I played with in Saudi, a South African named Roger, donated all our old uniforms to under privileged kids in South Africa. The uniforms were going to waste – why not give them a second life.
It might not prevent world hunger from continuing, it might not cure any of the pandemic diseases that still cripple this planet, and it might not affect everyone; but to me this is a wonderful thing. It’s a gesture, some may say a little one (but those are people who make none at all). It’s help restore my faith in people for a while. I’m slowly losing. Roger, and the other members of the former Khobar Expats Football Club have done a good thing in my book. I’ve never been more proud to be a former player of that great league.
I’ve attached some photos from Roger’s Facebook page of the kids in some of our old uniforms. Most of them are far too big for them (we had some big lads playing), but it doesn’t look like the kids care one little bit.