Arsenal Gap Year Part 1 - GDM Club. Manica, Mozambique travel blog

Had a fantastic birthday today and how many people can ever say they did what I did today and in Mozambique!

It was match day which equates to a lie in due to us playing the friendly match at home, in Chimoio, against vilankulou. Kick off was at 3 and it would take us about an hour to get there so we would leave at 12ish. The camp was in a relaxed mood in comparison to the pandemonium prior to the Beira game. I followed suit and was in a chiloled out mood as I knew I wasn't going to play and didn't want it to dictate or ruin my day.

All the players came down to the club at 11.45 and we had a treat of chicken and rice for our pre-match meal. Due to us receiving lunch last there were no more forks which resorted to us eating rice with our hands for the first time... and you fork eating it with a fork is frustrating. What a day to do it big event for a big ocassion and this was party food of the highest calibre.

When we asked Migurel when we'd be leaving he replied half 12. You can imagine my shock when I strolled to the bar only to find the 2 mini buses crammed with players, club officials and equipment. It was 12:05 and Pingi shouted out 'are you coming?' Thanks for the heads up, they almost left without us and for once defied the laws of TIA by being early. Talk about picking your moments, anyway any attempts to drop us were futile and we hopped onto the mini bus and left for Chimoio.

Upon reaching Chimoio our only stop on the GDM tour was Text Africa's ground. Text Africa are a Mozambican team who play in the National League and their pitch was justifiably immaculate. It was lightyears ahead of our pitch and better than Beira's, although the ground had a similar setup with one grandstand.

Getting into the ground was an event in itself. We pulled up to the main gates ready to go in when a guard went and stood in front of the gates and refused to let us in. His whole quarm centered around us not having the appropriate paperwork to prove we were GDM. I suppose they regularly get mini buses stopping by their gates full of men with football boots and other sport based equipment... doughnuts. After sitting outside the ground in protest, not reminiscent of student protest scenes in London, common sense preveiled and we were allowed in. I think we took the stadium tour, i.e. went and stood in the stand for a bit, before walking round the back to the changing rooms.

The changing rooms were painted Text Africa's colours of blue and white and as the shirts were handed out I found myself being promoted to number 4 which definitely fitted me better.

The other team arrived at 2.45 while we were sitting on the subs bench and the starting 11 were warming up led by Paiva and Mario.

The match was well played and fast paced however we lost 2-0 and picked up major casualties at the end. Chibanga had a nasty cut on his head but was able to play on thanks to Sheriff creating a work of art with a Terry Butcher inspired head bandage/onion bag. Jet Li (Ribeiro) jarred his back in the events leading to the first goal while Felix was stretchered off but later returned to action. The worst injury happened to Gabriel, our other keeper, after he collided with their striker in the build up for the second goal and now sported a ripped eyelid which swelled into a wound more common in boxing. It was so bad his face swelled and he couldn't see out of his eye. It was compounded by the fact that he had just rejoined us from Beira and had only come to watch the match. He only played because Jet Li got injured and now he was wrose off!

Poor Sheriff, the physio, was charging round to each player like he was in one of our training sessions and even had Miguel ranting at him in between tending to each player.

I almost put myself up for playing in goal when Jet Li and Gabby went off but thought otherwise as everyone was dropping like flies.

So up stepped Lloyd to go in goal and within minutes the other team should've been awarded a penalty in the most blatant grapple I've ever seen! How the referee didn't give it I'll never know and one things certain ... Lloyd belongs in WWE Wrestling.

In the aftermath of the carnage we headed back to Manica with our team buses resembling British Red Cross Ambulances.

Back at the club we got our glad rags on... that'll be shirt and shorts then and set out for some birthday chicken.

At the moody Nandos we had the usual treat, took some bday snaps and chatted with the owner some more.

On our return we headed to the bar and I had my first beer since I've been here which was long awaited. It was called 2M and tasted a like Becks just in a dusty bottle.

The day was capped off with a Skype chat to my family who rustled up a superb Arsenal cake with candles that I magical blew out (thanks Dad).

I then cracked open the cards and present which my mum had expertly stashed away in my suitcase. Then I said goodbye and drew the curtain on what had been a special birthday.

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