One of nice things about being a Gooner is no matter where you go in the world, you’re a part of something that transcends borders, nationalities, races, genders – if you speak Arsenal, you have no trouble making friends.
This was never more apparent than when one of our Bay Area Gooners, Molly Keane, traveled to East Africa. Molly can often be found at Maggie McGarry’s Irish Pub for the Arsenal matches in the company of her family, which is fitting because it was her father Dennis’ Arsenal obsession that drew her into the fold.
I’ve always been a soccer player and my dad used to coach me, she says, His crazy Arsenal-love began when I was an undergrad in Santa Barbara and once I returned to the Bay Area, there was no choice but to jump on board.
Molly admits to be suffering from the PTSD after losing two of her favorite players in Fabregas and Nasri, but her love for the Gunners remains strong, especially for Wilshire and Song, and she likes the addition of Arteta.
She even speaks fondly of the 4:45AM West Coast kick-off times, saying, That’s when you know you are truly among real Arsenal fans.
Recently Molly traveled to Mfangano, Kenya for two months as part of a UCSF research team doing qualitative HIV/AIDS research. Their days were spent running nutrition workshops, qualitative focus groups, and community events, but their nights were spent, hanging out with their host families, and learning about Luo culture.
I stayed with an amazing family who were Arsenal fanatics. My host parents love soccer and we all played in the island’s soccer tournament during my stay. Both my host mom and dad wear a lot of Arsenal flare and their kids have Arsenal underwear! The two things people on the island are most proud of, is that President Obama’s father was a Luo and being Arsenal fans.
Molly discovered that following the Arsenal in Kenya can be a little tricky. We listened to Arsenal games through my host’s cellphone (don’t ask me how!) in Kiswahili. I could understand when goals were scored as you’d hear the player’s name followed by, Goooaaal.
There is no electricity or running water on the island, but the community center was able to project the Liverpool game onto a wall using solar power, which was awesome. I spent about a week traveling and while in Nairobi, had the unfortunate luck of being in a Manchester United bar, surrounded by Rooney-lovers during Arsenal’s match with them. It was traumatizing to say the least.
Molly is back in the Bay Area, but is still in regular contact with her Kenya host-family. On behalf of the Bay Area Gooners, we sent them a box of Arsenal shirts recently, which they were thrilled to get.
Of her “host-family” here, she says, I just want to say how much I enjoy watching Arsenal as a part of the Bay Area Gooners. There is no place I would rather be early morning on the weekends than at Maggie’s!