In The Beginning There Was No Football….
Football was in the air and P was limping with a bandaged right foot. He had been watching the game between USA and Germany and he had been cheering and supporting USA. At the eighty-sixth minute the Americans had had a chance to snatch an equaliser but the opportunity evaporated as Dempsey, who was fed in a promising position by Yedlin, couldn’t put the final ball in the right path. However, P who was sitting on the sofa, totally and vicariously involved with the game, had involuntarily hit out with his leg to kick the ball and his foot had struck the coffee table.
P was now reading about how the Uruguayan player, Luis Suarez, was expelled for biting an Italian player during the game on Tuesday. “Sad,” P muttered. “Was he fighting tooth and nail for victory?” P shook his head and shrugged. P would rather bite into many things… sausages, sandwiches, steaks, potatoes and even vegetables… But biting Italians… It was way off his league….
His mind on football, the day’s newspaper now resting on his chest, he leant back on the sofa and pondered on the origin of the game. He had heard stories about world’s early footballs being made from pig’s bladder, but how exactly did it start as a game was P’s question. He let his imagination take reigns…
Long, long ago, when the ice age had started to melt and the world was coming to life again, there was this early human called P who lived in a cave. He was still looking for a partner, but it was hard in those times as nobody ventured out for long because it was still cold. Almost everything was coated in ice those days and even if a would-be partner had come knocking on his cave door, he would not have been able to distinguish her from any wild beast. So, P lived all alone in his cave and he had a neighbour who lived all alone in a cave just opposite.
One day a wild pig wandered into P’s cave parlour and he slaughtered it for food. As he cut open the pig with his sharp stones, he found a sac like organ with a tube like structure, under the belly skin of the pig. He carefully cut it out and inspected it. He tried to look through the opening of the tube.. He tried pulling at the tube.. He tried sucking the tube.. And then he blew through the hole on one end of the tube. To his amazement the sac grew bigger and bigger. When he was finally out of breath, he tied up the ends to keep the air in the sac which was now filled out in the shape of a ball.
P watched the ball proudly and played with it with his hands. After a while he got bored and left the ball well alone for a few days. Those days, everything was coated in ice and things did not spoil easily. Then on a day of blistering ice fall, P was cave bound. He had nothing to do other than scratch figures on his cave wall. He was wondering if his neighbour whom he had seen going out earlier had returned back to his cave, but P did not want to venture out in the wet ice to check. P suddenly had a brilliant idea. He brought out his ball and kicked it across to the other cave. No sooner had it rolled in through the entrance of the cave, than his neighbour appeared at the opening with the ball and kicked it back to P. P grinned and kicked the ball back to the neighbour who returned it promptly again. This continued for some time and both found that using their feet to kick the ball to the opposite side was really fun… and the world’s first football game was born!
Now that P had solved the origin of the football game, his thoughts wandered to the ball he himself had made from a pig’s bladder. Just when the world cup football games had started, he had read about how they made footballs in Victorian times. He then had gone to the nearby slaughter-house and procured a pig’s bladder after paying a hefty sum. The butcher had thought that there was some ulterior motive behind P’s demand for a pig’s bladder and had decided to charge him accordingly. Back home, P had washed the bladder in water and he blew air into the bladder using a straw as he had seen it being described in the book “Little House in the Big Woods”, by Laura Ingalls Wilder. To make a football as they did in Victorian times, he had to put it in the oven and bake it for 45 minutes on low heat. However, all the efforts of procuring and washing the bladder, and the innumerable attempts at filling it with air before he finally succeeded, had drained him of his energy and he had postponed the baking till after his afternoon nap.
Suddenly, P realised the reason for the all-pervading foul odour that was shrouding his house for the past few days. He had forgotten all about baking the bladder ball and it was the era of global warming and not just after the ice age! He rushed to the kitchen cabinet where he had last left the ball. When he located the ball he decided that not only could he not play football with his his sore foot, he also somehow had to get rid of the stinky ball ASAP. So he sent it flying over the fence to his neighbour’s backyard. It promptly came flying back from the other side with a lot of expletives and P now also understood how the game of handball could have originated!