Invoking the spirit of Jesus, Muhammed at match venues | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Invoking the spirit of Jesus, Muhammed at match venues

Posted: Apr 18, 2015 at 1:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Reading the narrative of Dan Nnaji on how players invoke the spirit of their ancestors at match venues before kickoff, particularly that of Jesus and Muhammed for the Christians and Moslems, reminds one that Premier League clubs have their own anthems too.

Pillars players’ praying before kick off

Pillars players’ praying before kick off

Clubs as Bayelsa United of Yenagoa, Dolphins and Sharks of Port Harcourt, Enyimba of Aba among others have this tradition of invoking the spirits of their various gods through prayers and  singing of their anthems before the match and at half time too.

All these are done ostensibly to get the help of these God and ‘gods’ to enable them win their matches, but one also wonders which of the prayers should be answered as it is directed to the one and only Almighty God in heaven.

Funny enough, at the end of any game there is always a winner or a stalemate as the case maybe and who should be blamed for the worst result? Could it be that the God or god(s) was/were partial or weak?

This no doubt is a football culture cutting across different categories of our National teams as they are found huddled up together to pray when in tournaments and even in friendly matches.

Enyimba International, for instance, has a unique and different routine, rather than the whole team gathering to pray, the various departments – attackers, midfielders and defenders hold hands to pray on their half of the field just before kickoff.

This of course is after the team must have prayed in the dressing room according to the captain, Chinedu Udoji.

His counterpart at Heartland, Chinedu Efugh, says his team prays in the dressing room hence no need again to pray on the field before kickoff.

But the NPFL teams, just like the country is made up of different players of different religions, majorly Muslims and Christians. So who does the praying? The Muslims or Christians, who do we trust that their prayers will get answered?

Again, Efugh of Heartland says; “we usually nominate two persons to pray, one Muslim, one Christian and they take it one after the other.”

It is same for the current table toppers, FC Taraba, where there are also two sets of prayers both in the dressing room and on the pitch.

Jelili Akinbode of El Kanemi Warriors reveals that a Muslim teammate prays before a Christian does and it must be done in the dressing room.

Udoji says for Enyimba, “anyone who is ‘in the spirit’, either Christian or Muslim will pray’ and the team is good to go.

But does it work? Sometimes a team prays and still loses the game in question, but notwithstanding the ritual is never discarded as it is argued that there are various parameters of measuring the relative success of a game.

Heatland broke Shooting Stars heart in their first game in Ibadan winning 2-1, FC Taraba did same to Akwa United in Uyo winning 1-0 after all the deafening prayers, songs and clapping to invoke the spirit of the Mighty One.

So how do we judge if the prayers were answered or not? Do we look at the dropped points late in the game and conclude, the prayers were not answered or do we focus on the point gained away from home that helped them to a respectable finish in the long run last season, sealing a continental place as the answer?

“I believe God answers”, says Chinedu Udoji. “The thing is that his answer may not come the way you want it. For instance, you may pray to win a game and you lose the game, it does not mean God did not answer you because you might win the next three games after that one.

So instead of winning one and not winning the others, you lose one and win the rest. So if you look well, you see he actually answered”

Akinbode echoes, “What we do is to commit ourselves to God because we believe in destiny. We also pray for protection on the pitch. In a minute anything can happen, so you commit yourself to God. Prayers can change destiny.

So when we gather, we tell God we depend on Him and we accept His will for the match. He can make anything happen because with God all things are possible.”

This is simply saying impliedly that the prayers to God the Almighty and the lesser ‘gods’ must continue for victory and protection on the pitch, in and around the stadium for the good of everyone.