By Hooshyar F. Naraghi
October 3, 2003
The following story
is about playing soccer in the the middle of the
streets of Tehran. The original text was written in Persian
for a high school composition class in 1971 in Iran. Amjadieh
is the name of the oldest football stadium in the heart of
Tehran. It is no longer in active use because most
soccer games are now held in the 100,000-seat Azadi
Azar 20, 1350 (December 11, 1971)
Dr. Mahmoud Shimi High School
Football -- competitive, dangerous
sports in general -- has been banned in our high school recently.
In the beginning of the school
year, we were able to play football in the school yard until
the start of the first classes at 8:30 AM.
The most exciting
and delightful events were those rare occasions when we played
the twelfth graders. The majority of them were members
of our own high school team. There was ample reason to celebrate,
brag, boast and tease if our team, whose members were comprised
of the seventh to eleventh graders, happened to win a game
agnaist the big guys. These poor fellows would never hear the
it. These victories were of course announced proudly to the
rest of the members of our respective classes and made us heroes
their eyes. As the publisher of our high-school bulletin-board
newspaper, I could even write about them in the sports section.
Our football games normally started around 7:15
every morning. Our school yard was square shaped with almost
to each side. This shape was far from ideal to be considered
field. However, one does not have much to complain about
when the high school is public, and specially with a building
by a wealthy merchant from the Qajar era. We counted our
lucky stars that the school yard was covered with asphalt. No
complaints here either.
Galvanized basketball poles functioned as our
goal posts for football. They were located at the eastern and
of the school yard. After a three-year tenure in that school,
had yet to witness a single soul actually managing to pass
a ball through the basketball rings. In fact, I don't
any student in our high school who had ever attempted this
game at all!
When playing football, our major preoccupation
was to overcome the problem of dealing with the western side
of the yard,
adjacent to the restrooms. Only a short plaster wall
school from a private house. Most of the time our ball
the wall and land in the neighboring yard.
abrupt and sorrowful end to our games, since the
cranky old tenant of that house would send us a warning signal
ball into pieces. This action on his part never failed
to upset the eager football players that we were.
It was the
neighbor's revenge. Now, if we had any pocket money
left, we would organize a collection and purchase
another ball for ten rials from the corner grocery
The restrooms were another major nuisance every
time we were engaged in a game. The longest argument
was always generated
when the ball was accidentally hit inside one
of the restrooms,
an incident which occurred quite frequently.
Whose turn was it to fetch it from that filthy place? The unlucky
granted the honor of washing the ball in the
situated next to the restrooms.
The school principal used to constantly complain
about the lack of funds for the repair of
the restrooms. His argument
if certain funds were to ever miraculously
be appropriated, they would be spent on the school
itself. The principal
building would collapse in a not too distant
The main entrance of the school yard was on
the eastern side, located on Bahar Street.
of the game
who happened to kick the ball over the eastern
wall, had to also
risk their lives by going out and picking
up the ball from the middle of the busy street!
An old but well-maintained house with a very
beautiful garden and to-die-for roses formed
In order to prevent our balls from landing
in his property, the
owner of the house had erected a tall fence
above the western wall. The growth of ivy
the years had turned this simple fence
into a rather attractive sight.
side of the school yard offered no passage to the outside.
side was actually
swallowing our precious balls like an
alligator in a state of permanent
hunger. This meant that the school walls
were practically safe as well as an ideal
for our games ... >>> Part
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