MBALMAYO – He was already "old Mendouga" when we met him for the first time thirteen years ago, and since then his face never changed: an ebony mask carved by the years, from which came a childlike smile illuminated by shining eyes. That’s because old Mendouga had a passion that kept him young; youth football, to which he dedicated many years of his life. He also shared that passion with his son, who became an Inter Campus coach.
The centre in Mbalmayo was the first in Cameroon and the first in Africa, which made him – and not just for chronological reasons – the "dean" among Inter Campus coaches. One day he took us to the middle of the forest, to a well-maintained clearing; the spot in which he dreamed of building his village’s football stadium.
As we stood perplexed by the oddity of the clearing in the trees, he stood in front of our puzzled faces and explained to us incredulous foreigners with one of his famous smiles that the spirits played football on that pitch at night, and because Cameroonians love football so much their souls play the game, even when they’re sleeping.
Now that he has passed on, it’s how we like to remember him: guiding his personal team of souls in the greatest league in the world.
Addio, old Mendouga.