[SPORTS ★★★]


Togo Goalkeeper

(P1) Six years ago, on 8 January 2010, Togo goalkeeper Kodjovi Obilale found himself in a DEADLY situation.

(P2) In a bus, in the dark of night, in the DISPUTED Angolan ENCLAVE of Cabinda.

(P3) Obilale and his Togo team-mates were EN ROUTE to the Africa Cup of Nations when the bus was AMBUSHED by armed gunmen.

(P4) In a HORRIFIC attack that shocked the world of football, three people were killed and seven were injured, including Obilale, who was shot twice.

(P5) For several hours, it was reported that Obilale had been killed.

(P6) But six years and eight operations later, Obilale is very much alive.

(P7) The 31-year-old now lives in the French town of Lorient, Brittany.

(P8) He works as a SPECIAL NEEDS instructor for Remise en Jeu, an organisation that helps young people with social, mental, and physical problems improve their lives with sports.

(P9) “Today, my life has changed,” he said. “Mentally I feel fine and when the mind is OK, the body normally FOLLOWS SUIT.

(P10) “I’m working and the fact my mind is busy means I can leave the past behind and move forward.”

(P11) These days, Obilale still needs CRUTCHES, but he no longer uses a WHEELCHAIR.

(P12) He has regained 50% use of his right leg and is even driving again.

(P13) The shooting itself happened a few miles into Cabinda from the border with Congo-Brazzaville.

(P14) The Togo team were travelling to their training base a few days before their first match of the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations against Ghana.

(P15) The ambush was CARRIED OUT by gunmen from the Front for the LIBERATION of the Enclave of Cabinda, who were fighting for the independence of the oil-rich enclave from the rest of Angola.

(P16) Bus driver Mario Adjoua, assistant manager Abalo Amelete, and media officer Stanislas Ocloo were killed.

(P17) News of the shooting was broken on BBC World Service and very quickly became a global story.

(P18) Obilale says his one LASTING memory of that FATEFUL day was when he was in the bus, being spoken to in Portuguese by a young Angolan woman.

(P19) “I didn’t understand a word she was saying, but DEEP DOWN I felt there was a connection between us,” said Obilale. “She was trying to REASSURE me.

(P20) “By CONCENTRATING on her voice and listening to what she was saying, it was as if I understood her. That calmed me down.”

(P21) The day after the shooting, the Togo team decided it was impossible to take part in the TOURNAMENT and PULLED OUT.

(P22) The tournament took place without Togo, who were not replaced, and the shooting inevitably CAST A SIGNIFICANT SHADOW OVER the competition.

(P23) Although Obilale has made great progress, the horrors of that night in Cabinda are still RAW.

(P24) He had “dark thoughts, really dark thoughts” when he was in hospital in South Africa.

(P25) “I just didn’t want to fight any more,” he told me.

(P26) “Before one of the operations, I said to my brother ‘This time, I don’t think I’ll survive. I think I’m going to die’.”

(P27) In the end, it was the thought of LETTING DOWN his family, and in particular his two children, that pulled him BACK FROM THE BRINK.

(P28) “I thought it would be really selfish of me to do something like that,” he said. “But I did have dark thoughts.

(P29) “If I had been single, with no children, I think the whole struggle would have been different, because I was really, really weak.”

(P30) The shooting in Cabinda cost Obilale his career and almost his life.

(P31) But his lack of BITTERNESS is truly HUMBLING.

(P32) He says he no longer misses playing football and insists he BEARS NO GRUDGES against the gunmen who shot him.

(P33) “I’m not angry with them,” said Obilale. “It’s not worth it.

(P34) “Today, we live in a world where some people are prepared to take a life just to get themselves heard and it’s got to stop.”

(P35) Obilale still has pills to take and long nights to get through.

(P36) The past six years have changed his life, not just physically and financially, but morally, too. It’s changed his OUTLOOK on life – and death.

(P37) “With everything I’ve been through, if something’s going to happen to me, it’ll happen,” he said. “I’m not as scared as before.

(P38) “I’d say 70-80% of people are afraid of dying. That’s not the case for me.”

WORDS: 722

SOURCE: http://www.bbc.com/sport/0/football/35225295


If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. Do you think you could have been as brave as Kodjovi Obilale?
  3. Do you believe in staying angry with those who have harmed you, or in forgiving them?
  4. Do you think the world is getting more violent?
  5. How can sports improve people’s lives?


What do the following expressions mean? Practice using each expression in a sentence; extra points if you can use it in conversation.

  • En route
  • Special needs
  • Follow suit
  • Carry out
  • Deep down
  • Pull out
  • Cast a shadow over
  • Let down
  • Back from the brink
  • Bear a grudge

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