“Ma Lettie is expecting you in half an hour. Give it your best shot and try and make a good impression please.”

I’m thrilled at the chance to earn some money of my own, but the thought of working with Rose terrifies me. What if I make a mistake? Anyway, I can’t avoid it. 

I feed Ronaldo earlier than usual, wash myself in the large tin basin in the corner of the room and then put on my best clothes. 

“Now go,” mom says, smiling her approval at seeing me so smartly dressed, “you don’t want to be late.”

The shebeen is on the other side of Du Noon, alongside the street soccer pitch. The sun is setting as I walk and in the distance I can see the sea shimmering.

A bunch of men are sitting outside the shebeen drinking beer and eating samp, beans and chicken while watching soccer on the big screen above the Streetskillz pitch. The Colts and the Aces are warming up for their first game of the street tournament. The Streetskillz games are happening at the same time as the World Cup games, so the organiser has had a big screen erected on the street so that people can watch both games at the same time. 

As I spot Rose I hold my breath. Even in an apron she looks beautiful.

“I hope you can carry plates better than you can kick,” Rose says, glancing towards the Streetskillz scoreboard, but then she smiles and hands me an apron. “Come on, I’ll show you the ropes.”

At first I’m very nervous, but I gradually settle in, catching glimpses of the street soccer and the USA vs. Ghana game on the big screen as I help to clear plates and take drinks to the customers.

“Ghana is Africa’s last hope,” Rose says as she piles a stack of plates into my hands.

I grin. I love talking soccer and I’ve never met a girl like Rose who loves it as much as I do. We talk tactics and about players in both the World Cup and in Streetskillz as we work. I’m surprised at how nice Rose is when you get to know her. She isn’t nearly as tough as she makes out to be.

I’m about to say something about Kaka’s red card against the Ivory Coast when one of the customers stumbles backwards and knocks into me. I’m carrying a huge pile of plates and they wobble as I struggle to keep control of them. If I drop them, I might well be fired on my first night. That would be almost as bad as being dropped from the team!

Image: Impact Tarmac, CC-BY-NC-SA-2.0

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Help Nathi win Rose’s heart. Write a love message to Rose from him.