Diary of Jordan Day 24: Time to go back home

By Chibuogwu Nnadiegbulam

This day finally came when the Champions of the historic Jordan 2016 would be crowned.

Would it be Japan or North Korea? The odds favoured Japan, and they were the only side with a 100 percent win record so far in the competition.

No class today. Our certificates were issued yesterday. So all I looked forward to was tonight's spectacle.

We were to leave the hotel at 2:30pm for the Amman International Stadium. You can bet I had a good sleep. When I eventually woke up, I sat down to write a bit of my diary. After lunch, we set out for the stadium.

In the bus, Martin reminded us of our assignments for the day. Mine was to do a "sweeper" for the match between Venezuela and Spain. The third place match which had their number nines battling for the award of the competition's highest goal scorer. Deyna Castellanos on the one hand, Lorena Navarro on the other. Both players were on five goals.

Knowing the sort of attention today's matches would draw, most of us made sure we were at the media tribune an hour before the match, mainly to secure seats while we worked out stats, facts and all we needed in readiness for the games.

From where I sat, I spotted Super Falcon's coach, Florence Omagbemi who is also a member of FIFA's Technical Study Group, at the VIP stand. So I went to introduce myself, since I was meeting her for the first time.

She was surprised to see she had company even after the Flamingoes had been knocked out. Her own assignment started from the knock out stages, that was when she arrived from the US and she would be heading for the camp of the Super Falcons afterwards.

We took a selfie and she said she was going to send it to me via email. I needed to write out my email address for her, but at that point, I totally forgot I could easily type it in her tab.

As I climbed back up to the media tribune to write it out with a pen and paper, I was stopped by a volunteer at the small gate that linked the media tribune to the VIP section. After looking at my tag, he would not let me through, because my tag did not give me access to the VIP area.

He was visibly upset because I had passed him on my way down, but he did not notice. Maybe because I wore the green No 12 jersey that looked so much like one of the volunteers' outfits.

Anyway, another volunteer, one of those manning the VIP section, intervened. And I was allowed back into the media tribune through that gate. But I couldn't return to give Coach Florence my email address on a paper. I had to pass it on. And she waved to tell me she had received it.

There were clappers everywhere today to charge the atmosphere for the matches.

The first match between Venezuela and Spain saw Venezuela Captain, Deyna Castellanos play below par, compared to her heroic performances of previous matches. Meanwhile Navarro who had seen lesser minutes than the other highest goal scorers contenders, came on for Spain at half time to score a hat trick.

Spain dedicated their goals and eventually their 4-0 victory to No 17, Maria Blanco, who got injured in their final group game against Mexico and had to be flown back home. They had her jersey on the bench.

So I decided to pick about three memorable things to write about the game for my "sweeper". However, for whatever reason, my head seemed clogged and that frustrated me.

Over to the final. The moment even Gianni Infantino, FIFA President has been waiting for.

It was tough for both Japan and North Korea. Throughout ninety minutes, the Asian sides practically toiled for a goal. Both goal keepers were on their toes, the teams were too careful to make any mistakes. The game was destined for penalties and penalties we did see.

In the end, Japan were the team to cry. The game ended 5-4. North Korea became the first country to lift the title twice. They first won it in 2008.

Japan would have had a double record. The first team to win it twice and the first to win it back to back. I felt for them, and Masa too. Watching captain Nagano weep on the big screen while she was being interviewed, was so emotional.

When the award ceremony was done, and the champions crowned, fireworks erupted in the sky as only the first and third placed teams rejoiced. But the atmosphere was electric.

At half time, the players of Jordan U17 National Women's team had paraded the stadium waving to spectators. The kids from Zaatari camp were also around to witness the conclusion of the history making event. Fans were also given goody bags to go home with.

After the award ceremony, we went to the mixed zone to meet with Mr. President of FIFA. He would be there in five minutes, we had been told.

From there, Jillian, Nadine and I hurriedly went to do our last stand up for Jordan 2016. It was done and edited with Jillian's iPhone, but it came out good. Nadine did the filming.

With the competition having come to a close, we shared hugs and said our good byes to friends we had made in the course of it.

We got back to the hotel at about midnight, and waited a while for the Chefs at the restaurant to set food on the buffet table.

I turned on my Laptop, and like I feared, the sensor on my laptop had stopped working. Like we say in local parlance, "the brain dey touch". To make matters worse, my mouse too was also touchy. Its own issue started three days ago. And I was not done with my story.

After making my predicament known to the mentors, they told me not to worry about the article anymore.

We did not sleep that night. We stayed at the lobby with some of our volunteer friends, who had come to say "good bye".

There at the lobby, we took a last group photo in our newly acquired photo journalists FIFA bibs, which Mohammad had given to us as parting gifts.


Christine and Tracy were the first to leave for the Airport at 4am. Then the hugs and tears began.
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