We all admired him, all the football players and fans in our town. Pa Felix Ugwu at the young age of 89 years would put on his Manchester United jersey with track suite and trainers and jog round the town to the football field every morning. Although, we usually say his coaching style is antiquated, but he would juggle the ball for over 30 minutes as he tried to teach us some skills and techniques of the game.
The best times for Pa Felix are during the inter-village tournament in our town or when Heartland Football Club is playing at the Dan Anyiam Stadium in Owerri. Pa Felix will become a mascot of some sort. He would run around the stadium several times performing some funny stunts. At half time, Pa Felix would steal the show. He would juggle the ball for over 10 minutes non-stop, displaying different skills to a standing ovation. Some people call him “Pa Heartland”, but we call him “Mr. Manchester United.”
My friend Gabriel, a die-hard Manchester United fan, is a great pal of Pa Felix. Though, he’s 35 years old, but he relates with Pa Felix as though they are age mates. They’ve this funny password whenever they come across each other, and they usually do several times each day. Gabriel would hail him “Up Man-u-u-u! And Pa Felix would reply “Man-u for life!” Sometimes, when we sit down to discuss or argue about football in general, Gabriel would call him “My young man” and Pa Felix would reply “My old boy.”
Gabriel took it upon himself to install DSTV decoder for Pa Felix and we usually go to his house to watch the English Premier League (EPL). I’m not a Man-u fan, I support FC Barcelona. So we usually argue whenever we come together; not until the 2011 UEFA Champions’ League finals.
I’ve never seen Pa Felix sick before, but we had to rush Gabriel to the hospital again. This time, it was not his asthmatic condition, his blood pressure keep rising higher and higher after the match. We also got to find out that for the first time, Pa Felix had also been admitted and he was looking bad that night. His grandson said he slumped after watching the match between Manchester United VS Barcelona.
It was a double heart attack for Gabriel, when learnt that Pa Felix had passed on the next morning. In fact, it was with great effort that the doctors managed to save Gabriel’s life. Gabriel is Asthmatic and now, he has developed Hypertension. I remembered what the doctor said during his counseling therapy. “To be a football fan is good, it can be fun, but you must consider your health condition first. You’ve to be alive, to enjoy many more football games…”
I agree with the doctor completely. Football is meant to help you develop a good heart of sportsmanship and not fanatics. The heart of sportsmanship can easily accept today’s defeat as a motivation to win tomorrow, but fanatics can’t take it. We’ve heard of persons that committed suicide and some caused riotous destructions of lives and properties because the club they support lost a game. Sometimes, it sound unbelievable what fanatics can do. It’s just senseless. Football sport is designed for entertainment and healthy living. It’s not a do or die affair.
Three Important Tips:
- If you participate in football sport regularly, you may live longer.
- If you keep growing young in your heart, you may grow older in age.
- If you develop a heart of sportsmanship, you’ll have more friends and enjoy more fun in life.
Three Important Warnings:
- If you’re above 60 years old, you’ve to slow down with your emotional involvement in football. Your heart may not be able to carry the tensions of the game any longer.
- If you suffer any cardiovascular challenge, don’t get emotionally involved in football. You may just trigger off a heart attack.
- If you’ve Asthmatic or Epileptic challenge, don’t watch football games live, especially where lots of people are cheering and booing. You may trigger off an attack.