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We don’t stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing. When I was in standard 5 many eons ago, in the year 2009. My late father would drop me for football practice every Saturday like clockwork.

He made a habit of watching and sitting through entire training sessions and cheering me on when we played visiting schools. On many occasions, the likes of Oshwal Academy were on the receiving end of thorough spankings. We’d beat them to pulp. 

I attended the uptown Makini schools where the sons and daughters of the who’s and who’s schooled. It was common for parents to show up at games and monitor the sporting progress of their children. In the hope of exporting them to greener pastures, to Europe, where sports and especially football is advanced and appreciated. My father bore similar hopes for me.

It helped that he watched my games. In his presence I was unplayable. The 11 year old opponents I faced were no match. I played to the audience of one; my dad. His gaze was all I cared for. But fate would take the laboring oar and those dreams died with his passing.

In an attempt to rekindle the magic of those yesteryears, I joined a bunch of highschool kids for an afternoon of estate football.They are no older than 16 and I’m 24 and 182 days. In life I’m an infant but on the pitch I’m a mummy. Lately I eat more than I do run.

There is an unspoken rapport on the field. The fatter you are the farther back the pitch you play. I play defence which is ideal. Minimal sprinting and in the event I have to, my booty can jiggle in peace. The highschool posse understandably underestimate my abilities. Until two of them are nutmegged and their butts dust the pitch.

Before long they christen me, “Mzae.” “Unacheza poa Mzae. Mzae gusa one two.” 

The nickname irks me. It makes me feel geriatric.But it quickly strikes me being regarded as old could be a cool thing.

When Raymond Reddington (my favorite tv character) is questioned about his dwindling health and age by an associate, he replies,

“Like a lion in winter, I’m both diminished and dangerous.”

Against these younger geezers on the pitch who know no better than to age me,

I’m a lion in winter.

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