Another boy hold a ball akimbo beckoning on his play mates:”Come lets play Monkey Post” he shouted. Soon, both boys began to choose from among the six boys that just gathered and they quickly formed two teams of four-a-side, ready to play.
Welcome to Ajegunle, a ghetto settlement in Lagos Nigeria where monkey post is a popular kind of football game in the neighborhood.
AJ City, as it is called, is densely populated with approximately six million people of mostly low income earners, who live below $2 per day. Sometime, there’s no food in a household and the young boys have to go out to fern for themselves. They play football for pleasure, food and gamble.
At age 12, a typical youngster in Ajegunle has already mastered ball control and ball holding skills as well as how to make accurate passes with the ball. These are some of the skills they learn while playing Monkey post on the street.
Monkey post is a football game with its own peculiar style. Well, rules are usually adjusted as the players or gamblers deem fit for the occasion, so you can’t say it has a standard set of rules. The game can be played four-a-side, Five-a-side or six-a-side, depending on available space. Sometimes, stones are used to create goal posts, but there isn’t a goalkeeper.
Everyone is a player and run around the pitch, which is usually not larger than a basketball court. Players are meant to move the ball on one touch or learn how to shield the ball and dribble through some very narrow spaces.
When the ball goes out of play, you can throw-in with one hand or play-in with your legs if you like. And for Penalty kick, you’re required to turn your back on an eighteen yard spot, and with no one in the goal post, you kick the ball with your heels.
Monkey post is the gamblers game. At Tolu schools Playground, for instance, Area boys (neighborhood Gangsters) gamble off Monkey post. They provide for these young players ‘jeun-jeun’ (Money for Food) as they bet against one another on each game. Well as you know, anything that involves gangsters often end in street fighting and sometimes, these young promising players get stabbed to death in such fracas.
Monkey post however is a good training regimen for any team preparing for a competition. It helps build the players to have quick alertness and ready for combative football. Many Nigerian coaches adopt it in camp as part of their training program in preparation for any major competition.
Recently, some corporate organizations adopted Monkey Post in their talent hunt program events. Nigeria Breweries (NB) has began to refine style with its ‘Guilder Five-a –side tournament. NB is trying to institute some form of standard rules and regulation to the game. For the tournament, it constructs goal posts of about 3 feet tall and 4 feet wide with nets. A player is required to defend from the goal post, though he doesn’t use his hands and cannot be called a goalkeeper.
Never the less, in spite of all the recent refinements, you could still find youngsters playing the raw style of monkey post at the heart of Ajegunle.