CAIRO: On Sunday, Nada was on a mission. She was on a plane full of football fans heading to Ghana, fully prepared to cheer on the national team during the African Cup of Nations.
She initially bought the ticket (covering a return plane ticket, lunch, transportation to the Accra Stadium and access to the game) and was driven by the sheer excitement of a football fan. But, when she was departing Cairo, the leaflets carrying the trip’s information also described how pivotal her role was in reaching victory.
“We felt like we were part of a national mission, she said. By boarding on this plane, she had officially become part of the squad – the squad that brought back the cup.
But this mission – as fun as it sounds – wasn’t an easy one. First there was the responsibility. Then of course, there were the 12 hours of flying (about six each way) in one day, the overwhelming humidity of the equatorial African country and the disorganization associated with such a spontaneous trip.
After beating Ivory Coast in the semi-finals, EgyptAir officials announced that the national airliner will provide a plane with low-cost tickets to transport fans to Ghana to support the national team.
The announcement was on Thursday night. The final was on Sunday. And of course, this spur-of-the-moment endeavor had its due share of disorganization. There was a lot of waiting in each stop (at Accra’s airport to the stadium and on the flight back), according to Nada. The bus carrying the fans back to the airport, she continues, wasn’t where it was supposed to be. And on the flight back, many fans wanted to board on the plane carrying the triumphant team as if “boarding passes meant nothing. It was literally a fight convincing people to move to the other airplane, she recalls.
But there were also great moments.
“It was the goal, she said referring to the best moment on the trip.
Mohamed Abou Trika’s goal in the 77th minute brought victorious relief to fretful fans.
And upon leaving the stadium and among the confusion of trying to understand the Ghanaian culture (she didn’t know whether people touching her hand were being offensive or simply congratulating her for the win), she got to celebrate the win with joyful Ghanaians on Accra’s streets. At the airport, she was freely mingling with the star players – with a stack of photos to prove it.