Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Monday, January 1, 2007

So Close, Footballer's New Year reunion fizzles out

"A horse. A horse. My kingdom for a horse, " cried out Richard the Lion Heart after his nights were besieged by Moors. The one thing that life's problems leave upon a person is not to take things for granted.

For Ayi Nii Aryee, the Ghanaian football player who's been playing out a real life version of Tom Hanks' stranded character in the movie The Terminal, home and family never seemed more desirable.

After local football club Union FC helped purchase a ticket home for Aryee after nearly six months in solitude in Clark International Airport , the 19-year old football player with dreams of making it on the international stage was going home. He left Clark around noon of last December 30, 2006 to go to Ninoy Aquino International Airport to take an Emirates flight bound for Dubai and from there to Accra, Ghana. "It would have been a nice homecoming," thought Ayi about arriving home on New Year's Eve.

He bade a teary-eyed farewell to the firemen in the Emergency Services Department (where he was confined) and Union FC who all treated him like a brother. His flight was scheduled for 6pm, but right before boarding, he was disallowed to take a seat. Dr. Rafa Rodriguez, who also plays with Union FC explained the latest snag in the Ghanaian's quest to go home: "He was withheld by United Arab Emirates pending a request from Dubai for permission to board, Dubai being his transit flight. This is the protocol of the UAE."

For the third time in a year (the first being in Singapore where he was deported after his working papers were cancelled and the second happening at Clark where he has been staying ever since), Ayi was confined to quarters. Only this time, he was more distraught. "To come so close then snatch it away, it is cruel," he lamented as soon as he found himself back in the familiar digs of the conference room of the Emergency Department Services in Clark that has been his living quarters in the last four months.

NAIA Officials have been most helpful in trying to secure the fax from Dubai that will allow the Ghanaian entrance into the Middle Eastern gateway. Said one Immigrations official, "As much as we'd like to help, it's out of our hands. Ghana embassy officials in Singapore have certified his identity. Unfortunately, this is all part of the protocol." The official however stressed that it will take three to four days to process all the papers before Ayi will be finally allowed to leave.

"It's a little problem. Just a few more days," says Ayi trying to sound upbeat. "But at least I know that it will not take another six months."

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