I miss playing football. I also miss playing video games. These two, growing up not exactly being an only child but also an only child, felt like family to me. I didn’t know it then, but as I write this, it’s all coming back.  They were my escape from the things I was exposed to and had to deal with then.

I think it began to feel this way for me in Secondary school. I looked forward to break times and Fridays. The day we could play football till whenever our legs allowed us to. Usually, the class periods before the closing time bell rang were for team selection and tactics. Whatever the teacher said in these periods entered one ear and left through the other.

I could kick anything — leather Health ball, felele, plastic bottle, paper-taped ball, anything kickable. And this got me famous amongst my juniors (including primary school kids) because I didn’t mind. I didn’t let seniority hinder me from getting the dose of happiness I got from playing football. This was why I always played with a smile on my face. This was why Ronaldinho was one of my idols growing up. I was privileged to be part of the set that had and played with some of the greatest players in the school’s history. I wasn’t even bothered about being the best. My above average level was okay for me. Just give me a ball to kick around to take me to my happiest place, please. Oh and the days I scored or assisted a goal were my truly happiest days; I couldn’t really sleep. I would play everything over in my mind, smile and shake my head at how much of a genius I was with that pass, dribble or shot.

Returning home to my PlayStation console, either to my career mode on FIFA/PES or an action-adventure game was always a beautiful experience. It was something like a war soldier returning home to his family. I would always try to reproduce something I had seen from live football into the game. I would give the players in my FIFA/PES the exact boots they used at that time in real life. I was very finicky. I would also try to reproduce matches with the same conditions they were played in real life. And the action-adventure games I played? I was indeed the protagonist(s) I used. The good guy killing all the bad guys in my life; that was me. That was an entire realm I was totally zoned into.

I thought it was always going to be like this. Play football and video games weekly till I grow old and die, but I guess life has been happening to me. Some of my close friends I grew up with still play weekly, and sometimes I go to their homes to play some FIFA with them. I still own a PlayStation console I play like every three months, it still takes me away from worries sometimes. Time and fitness no really de again. And even when I get to do these two things, it’s hard to replicate the happiness they gave me then.

Your ex-football and video game addict,

Ayo Wright

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