One Pala

Posted: December 5, 2012 in Uncategorized

one palaIf you grew up in a South African township then you would have known or played One Pala at some stage of your adolescence stage.

One pala is football game played on a tarred/dusty street or sometimes on barren land, all needed was a ball ,FIFA specs not applicable, two standard size building or paving bricks normally picked/borrowed on a neighbour’s yard or pavement and placed diagonally on opposites ends of the street just next to the kerb as to allow the flow and movement of mobile and pedestrian traffic, so setting up of the field was strategically located next to houses that had boundary walls and also the street slope was assessed critically,  so future town planners and engineers where really honed at this level.

This game was normally played between eight to ten players split democratically and evenly, sometimes the hierarchy of choosing a team was bestowed on the fat kid with inyuku, as betting was largely encouraged with the normal rate between fifty cents and two rands, so it was very wise to always associate yourself with that fat kid (future presser).

There where no rules except for the occasional hand ball, throw in’s and corner kicks which where largely debated endlessly as if it was a presidential debate, and the golden rule was; balls above the waist weren’t allowed at all,  for one simple reason, it was to hinder the ball landing in this one particular house, every street had that house with immaculate garden, Nicely built wall finished with spanish plaster and for one strange reason there was always a dog, the meanest in the neighbourhood and one grumpy old man who lived there, when the ball landed there, getting it would constitute MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 4, so under no circumstances would a high ball be played with the fear of it landing in that house, if it did PARLIAMANENT was in session, discussing how it landed there who kicked it etc, and these discussions would last for a good 15-20 minutes where the bulk was to try to reach consensus on who was the unlucky bugger to retrieve the ball, like true dedicated FBI agents, scouting reports and dossiers where prepared over time about movements, speed, aggression of the dog and the whereabouts of the grumpy owner at certain times of the day, This would turn into a high skilled operation and in most cases with a degree of success in retrieving the ball, it was team work at its best .

There was just one drawback with One Pala, it had no time limit, these games would go on for eight hours and breaking for a short fifteen min lunch which was Kool-Aid/Sweet-aid and a loaf of brown bread sponsored by yours truly again the fat kid (future presser).

The game would end at a pre-determined score, normally the first team to score four goals would win the match, hence the coined name Drop-Four, now one might think scoring four goals was a walk in park think again, people defended their brick as if their lives depended on it, pride was at stake and there was always this one kid with spectacles, no skill and all his entire movements on the game will be literally concentrated two steps away from their brick, the bugger would stay there forever, people hooked and crooked to win to glorify themselves on the fat kid.

In One Pala soccer boots are strictly prohibited, bare feet and takkies was the deemed approved specification, but that always had dire consequences, broken nails, chirped knees, ishumi in your thigh even broken toes, all these where marks of true kasi One Pala legend.

One Pala would stay a true testament of one’s upbringing and a place where friendships were tested and strained and it will always stay a true part of our community.

One Pala for life!

  1. Samkelo says:

    That’s who we are as South Africans, I call this a secrete of SA football, if grew up playing in those dust streets its possible that u can make it to local clubs & went all the way to professional ranks!

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