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June 29th, 2006

on becoming a football legend

It seems like there are two paths to achieving personal immortality within the football world. The first is to follow in the footsteps of Pele by scoring goals at a young age, getting nominated as your nation's minister of sport, and then talking out your ass when questioned by the press. The other is to follow in the footsteps of Diego Maradona by scoring fantastic goals, becoming a lard-ass as your career progresses, and having an opera made about your life by adoring fans.

José Luis Chilavert tried the second approach and scored some wonderful goals for a goalkeeper, but despite earning the nickname 'fat bastard' and getting kicked out of Strasbourg over his weight (as well as earning a six-month prison sentence in France) he's only managed to become a sports announcer in his native Paraguay and currently provides commentary for Univision in the United States for World Cup 2006.

Michel Platini looks well on his way to echoing Pele's feats - showing sublime skill in France and Italy during the 1980s (and to his credit none of Platini's goals were scored in the NASL) while also endorsing such idiotic plans as the creation of a unified calender for top-flight matches. Because an outdoor, all-grass pitch is going to be conducive to quality play during the winter whether you're in equatorial Africa or above the Arctic Circle in Norway, right? However, he was chosen to light the Olympic flame in 1992 for the Albertville Winter Games.

Ronaldo looked set to follow the path set by Pele, but after seeing the increase to his waistline for World Cup 2006 it may very well be that he's trying to emulate the man from Buenos Aires. Only time (and cocaine) will tell.

malinke story

Dounou gna dan kouma Allah fé, a ye san kolo dan, ka dougou kolo dan, ka kocodjie baou dan, ka badji lou dan, ka kolou dan, ka yirilou dan, ka sogolou dan, ka mogo lou dan. A ba fen toumani ka djiro kè, a ko sogo bè makal ki bolobiri i niè la. Sogobè ya bolo fla biri i niè la. N'ka ba yè kègouyakè: a ma son ka niè da tougoun ka gna: a y'a bolokoni nou so bo niokon na: o ya to a y'a yè Allah ba-kan ka fèn diougou lou kè djiro: Sadiougoulou minignam, ninikin-nankan, bamba, mali. Kabini ô kèra, ba tè son ban Kadjiguing djiro. Hali ni san-ya gossi, a bè koulè bahou a ba lon mi yè djiro.

* * * *

When God had finished creating the sky and the earth, he put trees, animals, and human beings on the earth. Then, when he wanted to cover the surface with water (oceans, streams, and rivers), he told all the animals to close their eyes. Every animal closed its eyes except for the goat. The goat, instead of covering its eyes with its hands, as everyone else was doing, spread its fingers in order to look through them. Thus it observed God putting nasty fish into the waters, dangerous snakes, alligators, hippopotamuses, and monsters. Since that day the goat has lost confidence in the water, and does not dare, under any circumstances, to go into the water, because it knows what there is in it.

* * * *

Malinke belongs to the Mande branch of the Niger-Congo family of languages and is closely related to Bambara and Dyula - with the three often combined under the single term Mandingo. It is spoken by about 3 million people in Senegal, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Mali, and the Ivory Coast.