By Chibuogwu
Nnadiegbulam
This
day finally came when the Champions of the historic Jordan 2016 would be crowned.
Would
it be Japan or North Korea? The odds favoured Japan, and they were the only
side with a 100 percent win record so far in the competition.
No
class today. Our certificates were issued yesterday. So all I looked forward to
was tonight’s spectacle.
We
were to leave the hotel at 2:30pm for the Amman International Stadium. You can
bet I had a good sleep. When I eventually woke up, I sat down to write a bit of
my diary. After lunch, we set out for the stadium.
In
the bus, Martin reminded us of our assignments for the day. Mine was to do a
“sweeper” for the match between Venezuela and Spain. The third place
match which had their number nines battling for the award of the competition’s
highest goal scorer. Deyna Castellanos on the one hand, Lorena Navarro on the
other. Both players were on five goals.
Knowing
the sort of attention today’s matches would draw, most of us made sure we were
at the media tribune an hour before the match, mainly to secure seats while we
worked out stats, facts and all we needed in readiness for the games.
From
where I sat, I spotted Super Falcon’s coach, Florence Omagbemi who is also a
member of FIFA’s Technical Study Group, at the VIP stand. So I went to
introduce myself, since I was meeting her for the first time.
She
was surprised to see she had company even after the Flamingoes had been knocked
out. Her own assignment started from the knock out stages, that was when she
arrived from the US and she would be heading for the camp of the Super Falcons
afterwards.
We
took a selfie and she said she was going to send it to me via email. I needed
to write out my email address for her, but at that point, I totally forgot I
could easily type it in her tab.
As
I climbed back up to the media tribune to write it out with a pen and paper, I
was stopped by a volunteer at the small gate that linked the media tribune to
the VIP section. After looking at my tag, he would not let me through, because
my tag did not give me access to the VIP area.
He
was visibly upset because I had passed him on my way down, but he did not
notice. Maybe because I wore the green No 12 jersey that looked so much like
one of the volunteers’ outfits.
Anyway,
another volunteer, one of those manning the VIP section, intervened. And I was
allowed back into the media tribune through that gate. But I couldn’t return to
give Coach Florence my email address on a paper. I had to pass it on. And she
waved to tell me she had received it.
There
were clappers everywhere today to charge the atmosphere for the matches.
The
first match between Venezuela and Spain saw Venezuela Captain, Deyna
Castellanos play below par, compared to her heroic performances of previous
matches. Meanwhile Navarro who had seen lesser minutes than the other highest
goal scorers contenders, came on for Spain at half time to score a hat trick.
Spain
dedicated their goals and eventually their 4-0 victory to No 17, Maria Blanco,
who got injured in their final group game against Mexico and had to be flown
back home. They had her jersey on the bench.
So
I decided to pick about three memorable things to write about the game for my
“sweeper”. However, for whatever reason, my head seemed clogged and
that frustrated me.
Over
to the final. The moment even Gianni Infantino, FIFA President has been waiting
for.
It
was tough for both Japan and North Korea. Throughout ninety minutes, the Asian
sides practically toiled for a goal. Both goal keepers were on their toes, the
teams were too careful to make any mistakes. The game was destined for
penalties and penalties we did see.
In
the end, Japan were the team to cry. The game ended 5-4. North Korea became the
first country to lift the title twice. They first won it in 2008.
Japan
would have had a double record. The first team to win it twice and the first to
win it back to back. I felt for them, and Masa too. Watching captain Nagano
weep on the big screen while she was being interviewed, was so emotional.
When
the award ceremony was done, and the champions crowned, fireworks erupted in
the sky as only the first and third placed teams rejoiced. But the atmosphere
was electric.
At
half time, the players of Jordan U17 National Women’s team had paraded the
stadium waving to spectators. The kids from Zaatari camp were also around to
witness the conclusion of the history making event. Fans were also given goody
bags to go home with.
After
the award ceremony, we went to the mixed zone to meet with Mr. President of
FIFA. He would be there in five minutes, we had been told.
From
there, Jillian, Nadine and I hurriedly went to do our last stand up for Jordan
2016. It was done and edited with Jillian’s iPhone, but it came out good.
Nadine did the filming.
With
the competition having come to a close, we shared hugs and said our good byes
to friends we had made in the course of it.
We
got back to the hotel at about midnight, and waited a while for the Chefs at
the restaurant to set food on the buffet table.
I
turned on my Laptop, and like I feared, the sensor on my laptop had stopped
working. Like we say in local parlance, “the brain dey touch”. To
make matters worse, my mouse too was also touchy. Its own issue started three
days ago. And I was not done with my story.
After
making my predicament known to the mentors, they told me not to worry about the
article anymore.
We
did not sleep that night. We stayed at the lobby with some of our volunteer
friends, who had come to say “good bye”.
There
at the lobby, we took a last group photo in our newly acquired photo
journalists FIFA bibs, which Mohammad had given to us as parting gifts.

Christine
and Tracy were the first to leave for the Airport at 4am. Then the hugs and
tears began.

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