Yvens Tiamou with a creative take on Chelsea’s midfield enforcer and the black athlete

This season N’Golo Kante has been a revelation. Correction: Last season with Leicester was a revelation. This year with Chelsea he’s made the ascendency to becoming the truth: a truth that comes with an itch. An annoying itch that lolls at the back of my brain, making me grind my teeth into coffee beans. Every time I watch him play live, the itch works its way from my arm, to my cheek and then to the back of my brain where I can’t reach.

My dentist is on speed dial.

So what’s got me in this bittersweet mood?

If I asked you to describe Kante in three words, which words would formulate in your mind? Be honest, was it – in no particular order – Strong, Fast and Powerful? I thought so. Damn that social programming [slams fists repeatedly on desk]. Damn it to hell!

Kante, is a midfield enforcer, but did you know that he’s also a microphone controller? He destroys the beat of the opponent’s attack, rebuilds and creates his own tone with such ease you’d think he was in his own home. It seems like that sometimes, watching him saunter around the pitch, putting out fires without breaking a sweat, and without a hitch.

Photo Credit: chelseafc.com

Yes he’s strong, yes he glides across the pitch, but why should your compliments halt there? You mean only his physicality stands out for you? That isn’t fair. You could write about how smart he is, and how he reads the game with such clairvoyance. Your views so myopic that when you look upon his dark skin, only words that connote power, you own in abundance.

It’s time to change the narrative, there’s a great art in his destruction, but you all fail to see it, and that’s the deep frustration. Journalists and pundits are all alike, with your assessments shrouded with laziness. Even in the way he breaks up play, he does it with lithe movements. His jersey never sullied, because he doesn’t need to go to ground to dispossess you. A powerful diminutive human, who is so light-footed, you don’t even hear him coming. Seen as a boogieman to the opposition, but a figure skater to us, as the blades of grass beneath him sway – never breaking – like a cool summer’s breeze, from every step he takes. He truly does play the game with pure grace.

It’s not just Kante that bears this defamation. You see this deconstruction of black athletes all across the nations. Paul Pogba, Serena Williams, Cam Newton and LeBron James, it’s about time we put more Respek on these great names. “Oh what power, and strength…” they bellow from their glasshouses. But what about their elegance? What about their majestic performances that linger in the air like an expensive fragrance?

Photo Credit: premierleague.com

Back to Kante though, who’s en route to becoming a two-time champion. With two different teams, that’s a fact that bears no other companion. Despite all this, he’s probably none the wiser. He comes, destroys, conquers, and then leaves stadiums in his white Mini Cooper. But don’t worry N’Golo, there are others out there who can see the gem you are. It’s just a shame for the near-sighted, whose eyesight doesn’t extend too far.

If you aren’t aware of what I’m loosely rhyming about, let me spell it out to you: Black athletes are not just all power and strength. Heed this outcry and let’s change the way we describe them. Their physicality should never supersede the technique, flair and elegance, as well as the cerebral nature that they wield. Write these lines like you were in detention – you know, Bart Simpson style – until they are decorated around the walls of your brain:

“Black athletes are not just all power and strength”

“Black athletes are not just all power and strength”

“Black athletes are not just all power and strength”

“Black athletes are not just all power and strength”

“Black athletes are not just all power and strength”

– Loosely rhymed by @Yvevolution

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