The Final Whistle

By Habibi

“Arsenal versus Liverpool!” my brother Gibs came home screaming. His passion for Liverpool is second to none. Of course, I love my team—Arsenal—as well. We were excited for the game on Sunday, April 9. It would settle the debate: which team is better, Arsenal or Liverpool?

Despite my brother and I being rivals when it comes to football, we are very close; we love spending time together and sharing stories. I have four brothers, yet the relationship between Gilbert and me is special: we cannot go a day without seeing each other. At mealtimes I always wait for him so that we can eat together. We do most things together; in fact, the only time we are not together is when I’m at work or school. My younger brother is my friend, and he shares most of his secrets with me. Only football separates us: he is a Liverpool fan, and I am an Arsenal fan.

Arsenal versus Liverpool, a match like no other: Gibs and I had been looking forward to the game all season. He was wearing his team’s jersey and I was wearing my Arsenal jersey. We settled down on the couch with a bag of chips and a few cold drinks, eagerly waiting for the game to start.

When the match began, we roared and clapped our hands. My younger brother cheered every time his team made a good play, while I would shout with joy when my team got the ball. It didn’t take long for my team to score: Gabriel Martinelli scored a wonderful goal eight minutes into the game. I jumped up and screamed. Shaking my brother, I laughed and told him, “Arsenal 1, Liverpool 0,” as if he was unaware of the score.

My heart was filled with joy as my team Arsenal was leading 1-0. My brother was very quiet for a moment. He said that there was still plenty of time. Right after he said that, Jesus scored and what a goal it was. Boom, it was 2-0 to Arsenal! I was so excited; I ran out screaming, “Arsenal!” My brother frowned in disappointment and started insulting the Liverpool defenders. I laughed at him.

As the game progressed, the tension in the room grew, and my younger brother and I made a bet on the outcome. We bet 10,000 Malawian Kwacha, the equivalent of ten US dollars. It did not take long for my confidence to fade as the game started to turn in favor of Liverpool. At the forty-second minute, just before halftime, Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah scored a goal. It pained me so much. Shaking me, my brother shouted that his team was back in contention as it was now only 2-1 to Arsenal. But he groaned in frustration when his team was awarded a penalty and Salah missed the penalty kick. How happy I was that he missed! My heart had been beating fast as Salah ran up to shoot but I felt so relieved afterwards.

Despite our differing opinions on which team was superior, my brother and I were still having a great time watching the game together. We are both passionate about football and we love the thrill of competition. We occasionally teased each other when the other person’s team made a mistake, but it was all in good fun. I was praying for the game to end 2-1 to my team Arsenal, but at the eighty-seventh minute, with only three minutes remaining before injury time, Firmino scored a header for Liverpool, equalizing the game 2-2. My younger brother laughed, saying Arsenal couldn’t even beat Liverpool at their home ground.

Now I started praying that my team wouldn’t lose the game. My brother was over the moon. I had to put aside my emotions and congratulated my brother for his team’s performance. The game ended 2-2 which was a good result for my brother as Liverpool had come back from 2-0 down. As for me, I was disappointed. I gave my brother a hug and we both smiled at each other. Since neither team won, we each kept our money.

The game had ended, but the fun wasn’t over yet. My brother and I spent the rest of the night discussing the match, dissecting each team’s strengths and weaknesses. We argued over the man of the match: he thought it was Firmino, even though he only came on as a substitute, and I thought it was Martinelli. We laughed and joked together, reminiscing about the many wonderful moments during the game. As it was getting late, we reluctantly said goodbye. It had been an incredible night, full of excitement and joy. We hugged each other one last time and promised to watch the next game together.

Even though we support rival teams, we both know that our love for football and our bond as brothers will always be strong. The result of the game didn’t matter, what mattered was the time we had spent together, sharing a common passion. Our love for football will always bring us together, no matter how different our opinions may be, and we were grateful for each other’s company. We both went to our rooms with a sense of contentment and happiness.

5 May, 2023