As they got out at the gate, Khazamula asked, ‘Papa, are you coming back to watch?’ Papa looked at him with a mock serious expression, ‘Oh no, I won’t be able to. I have to stay home and do the cooking.’ ‘Oh Papa.’ Khanyisa gave him a little punch on the shoulder. Papa grinned, ‘Of course, I’ll be back. How could I miss a tournament in which the future Bafana and Banyana stars are playing? Good luck,’ Papa called out as he was driving off, ‘ I hope you make it to the finals.’
And they did. Khanyisa’s team had had no real opposition but they knew that they would face a strong team in the final. Khazamula’s team had had one or two close calls, but they made it to the finals as well. The junior boys’ division final would be the first of the matches to be played on Easter Monday morning. That would be followed by the girls’ final and lastly the senior boys’ game. Papa was very proud of his son and daughter. When he boasted to his friends, some of them frowned. ‘How can you let your daughter play football? She should be learning our traditions instead.’
Papa laughed, ‘Well, that is our family tradition. My sister plays football with the men in her village and she introduced Khanyisa to the game. From the time she was a little girl, Khanyisa has wanted to be a goalie like her aunt.’ On Monday morning, Khazamula and Khanyisa were up early. Khanyisa had to drag Misaveni out of bed. She wasn’t interested in going to the grounds but Papa insisted. She had to be there to support her brother and sister. ‘It’s going to be boring,’ she grumbled.
‘No, it won’t be. I want you to take photographs of the occasion and then put them all together in an album so Mother can see what she missed.’
Misaveni sighed, ‘Okay, Papa.’
At the grounds, Papa and Misaveni took their places on the open stand. Misaveni had a store of chocolates, sweets, chips and juices to compensate for being there. She pulled out the camera and began to look at the crowd through it. Just as she turned towards the covered stand, she saw the junior boys’ teams coming through the tunnel. She took a picture and when Khazamula came running in, she zoomed in on him. During the match, she kept the focus on her little brother and whenever he got possession of the ball, she jumped up and began yelling, ‘Look out, Khazamula, a defender is going to tackle you.’ When he lost the ball, she collapsed on her seat, ‘I warned him, Papa. I warned him.’ Papa smiled quietly to himself. Then suddenly Khazamula was streaking along the sideline towards the goal box. Misaveni, with camera in hand, jumped up and kept the focus on her brother.
Defenders tried to tackle him but he dribbled around them, fooled them and entered the scoring area. The goalie came out and tried to grab the ball off his feet but Khazamula, too quick for him, smashed the ball into the back of the net. Misaveni jumped about screaming with enthusiasm. ‘That’s my brother! That’s my brother!’ Khazamula repeated his feat twice more and Misaveni was delirious with excitement. Khazamula was the hero of the game.
Papa laughed, ‘Calm down, girl. Save something for your sister’s match.’
But Misaveni had become a raving fan and during the girls’ match, she grabbed a vuvuzela and made the biggest din each time Khanyisa stopped an attempt at goal. The girls’ teams were evenly matched and at the end arrived at a goalless draw. That meant a penalty shoot out. When Misaveni saw Khanyisa standing alone in the goal mouth facing the striker from the rival team, she screamed, ‘That’s not fair. Papa, why are they doing that?’
‘It’s the only way to decide the winner. Each goalkeeper has to face five goal kicks and the one who saves the most, wins the match for her team.’
Misaveni sat frozen watching Khanyisa face the first goal kick. Papa had to take the camera from her. Khanyisa stood there concentrating on the ball; she wasn’t going to let the striker fool her with tricky movements. The striker stepped back, ran forward and shot the ball towards the left corner. Khanyisa was ready for her and as the ball flew up, she dived to her left and pushed the ball away. Misaveni, tears running down her cheeks, grabbed somebody’s vuvuzela and made a huge din. Then the other goalkeeper stepped into the goalmouth for her first turn. She too saved the first goal. Then it was Khanyisa’s turn again. ‘Papa, I don’t think I can watch this,’ Misaveni cried and covered her head with her arms. She looked up only when there was a general shout as Khanyisa caught the ball that was coming straight at her. As the goalkeepers took their turns, Misaveni became so tense that Papa had to put his arm around her and hold her close. When the other goalkeeper didn’t save the fourth ball, Misaveni shouted, ‘Yay, we win.’
‘No Misaveni, each side still has one more try.’
Khanyisa took her place in the middle of the goalmouth and she watched as the opposing striker placed the ball, moved back, ran up and kicked. Khanyisa could see the ball flying high to the right. It was out of reach. It would defeat her but her eyes flashed with anger. ‘You are not going to get away ball,’ she shouted and threw herself with all her might at the flying missile. Her fingers just touched it but it was enough to deflect its flight and it flew over the bar. Misaveni fell back against Papa, ‘I saved it, Papa. I saved the goal.’