Today was the day of the groupie. My hotel room was stormed by hundreds of fully clad Egyptian woman asking me to sign their hijabs. Okay, I lie, it didn't really happen. I was sitting down and stealing some wireless internet from the hotel lobby, when Sammy Kuffour (his father's Nigerian, he tells me), asked if he could check his email on my laptop. I turned him down with some excuse about me being a serious journalist and him being a frivolous overpaid (they all are) footballer, and that I wouldn't share my tools with him. I thought I had said those words, but it seems no sound came out of my mouth. So maybe I didn't say them. However, I do recollect telling him he could check his email, and I think I asked if I could lick his toes while he surfed. Again, I don't remember if I said that last bit, cos all my teeth are still intact.
Anyhoo, he gave me the log in details, and up popped some relatively suggestive pictures. It wasn't like late night Channel Five softcore, but by African standards, it was fairly escandaloso. Mr Kuffour claims he's never met this woman before, and that his number was given to her by someone he knows in Ghana. She's proceeded to send him racy text messages and email him pictures, the kind that cause African mothers to disown their children. So even though I didn't have to escape my hotel via the back door in a blacked out limo, I experienced groupieness vicariously through Sammy Kuffour.
The press pack are invited to watch most training sessions, just like this evening's. The players are such a joy to watch. Seeing Nigerians playing two-touch football is as rare as fried dodo's eggs. Maye because the injured Jay-jay wasn't there to hog the ball - he was the referee. After the training session, the coach, Eguavoen, asked us to mingle and get our soundbites. There were no restrictions whatsoever, and this was when I felt like a groupie. I pranced around the players, grinning, fluttering my eyes, and flicking my hair from my face. Then suddenly it hit me! I'm a serious journalist, what the hell was I doing? So I tried to get an interview with someone, anyone, but they'd all run away from me back onto the coach. Like the quick thinking south Londoner/Nigerian that I am, I hitched a ride on the team ambulance. I'd never been in the back of an ambulance before, and believe me, I was pleased with the circumstances. Because quite frankly, I wasn't sure if I even had any underwear on. Got to the hotel and managed to secure an interview with Kanu about his heart foundation. Whew...
ps. many thanks to all the kind comments. Much much appreciated.