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From Grass to Grace is a series that chronicles the career of a fictional African player whose life travelled from the harshest economic condition in Africa to Europe's best fields

From Grass to Grace
SPECIAL SERIES
By Nana Frimpong

It didn't take him too long to settle and make an impact in his latest environs. His debut came in a derby versus his new club’s greatest rivals from one of the country's other major city and the manager introduced him at half-time with his team down 1-0.

A goal and two assists later, he was the toast of the fans and the media.

The village-boy had finally arrived, and all sat up to admire his ability. And, for the rest of the season, he sure did give them plenty of reason not to do as much as blink, as he puts in one great shift after another. If his club did succeed in arresting a four-year silverware drought by claiming a League and Cup double at the end of that season, he probably was the reason.

With the good form, though, came bad news. Sometime during pre-season, he received reports of his mother suffering a terrible stroke that had rendered her bed-ridden, and the coincidence with his latest streak of success had set wild rumours spreading in his hometown.

Unaware of the situation back home, he thought it hardly inappropriate to visit his family to assess for himself the seriousness of his mom's condition and in which way -if any - he could help. And while he never quite expected his first encounter with his household since throwing a violent tantrum there some five years prior to be the ideal homecoming, it wouldn't hurt to try. It couldn't get that nasty, could it?

Well, it did - and in a pretty bad way, too. It didn't take too long for the hostility to hit him once he arrived in the village. The people - once his people - couldn't have held him in less regard now.

Was this not the one who the whole town believed had switched his mom's health for his own success through occult means?

Then again... was this not the very boy who had insulted his entire household and slandered his parents while half-drunk and half-stoned just years before?

Put simply, the general impression of him was that of the local boy gone 'bad'. The outcast, as it were.
 
Thus with each step he took toward his home and away from the bus station, these thoughts coursed through the minds of any who passed him. And so they reacted in their own peculiar manner.

The young women gossiped and hooted.

The children whistled.

The aged sighed and stared.

And, worst of all, the young men chased him, away from his homeward route and away from the town.

Sweating and with a mob of 20 able-bodied and angry men on his heels, he entered the next city-bound bus literally on the run. The 'grand' homecoming never was and, for some reason, he was almost glad it didn't.

For if such was the animosity harboured toward him by outsiders, he could only guess what might have been in store had he made the remaining 50 meters home. And to think these were the very people he felt ought to be proudest of all he had achieved.

That incident, quite sadly, did leave its mark on him and triggered a fit of depression that in turn contributed to a significant dip in form. Midway into the new season and his highly esteemed place in the team had become quite threatened, yet that only proved the least of his problems.

When a shattering ankle injury struck in one league match to compound it all, he truly broke down. Not long ago, things had seemed so bright. Now his world was as gloomy as could be.

He had already overcome some challenges in his young career, but could he rouse himself for one last escape?

Click to read episode 7 - Whatever will be, will be

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