‘BO-Bo-Bodjongo...Bo-Bo-Bodjongo,’ In 2012, this chant resonated around Perak Stadium whenever Albert Dominique Ebosse Bodjongo Dika or better known as Bodjongo touched the ball or scored a goal. It was just a six-month stint but the fans loved him.
The then 23-year-old was brought in to replace the lacklustre Serbian Lazar Popovic and made an immediate impact with the northern club. In 16 games, the Cameroonian scored 11 goals.
Pretty decent but he left Malaysia to join Algerian club JS Kabylie. He became the top scorer in the 2013 Algerian League and was a star for his club. But this year, tragedy struck the young forward.
On Aug 23, the 24-year-old forward was struck on the head by a projectile thrown by a disgruntled fan while his team, JS Kabylie and opposition side USM Alger were leaving the field after their 2-1 defeat against Alger.
And that defeat proved to be really fatal for him. After being hit on the head by a projectile, he was brought to hospital and he was pronounced dead due to traumatic brain injury. It caused shockwaves around the footballing world.
The beautiful game overshadowed by an act of hooliganism and it took away the life of a promising player who dreamt of playing in Europe.
Hooliganism is something that I despise in football. You can be passionate but not violent. Some fans can be doltish when it comes to controlling their temper and emotions!
In Europe, Ultras have been often been linked with hooliganism and violence, as some supporters tend to over-react when challenged by opposing fans.
It happens in Africa and Asia too. Countries like Egypt, Indonesia and now Algeria seem to record lots of hooliganism cases.
Freddie of Ultras Malaya said that violence happens sometimes because; "there is too much love for the team and colours. If we have to fight somebody we will - and be proud of it!"
When asked if violence was wrong in any circumstance, Freddie said that; "this is how we honour the colours".
"People may object to it - and it is perfectly right for them to do so - but we will stand by our colours," said Freddie.
Criticism is part and parcel of being an Ultras, as most deem them rowdy and a nuisance to the public.
"We tell ourselves that we are the people who make things happen. If people criticise us, it means that we've made people aware that we've done something," said Freddie.
They have their own rational but there are limits to everything. To the extent of killing someone or in some cases, many people - That's just ridiculous. Match-fixing, power tussles within football associations and hooliganism are elements that are tarnishing the reputation of the game.
Football these days is like a rose surrounded by so many thorns. We want to feel the beauty of its petals but somehow the thorns will ruin it. FIFA have taken steps to counter hooliganism but it just doesn't seem to work in some countries.
Are the associations in each of these countries doing their part to curb it? In Malaysia, if anything unruly happens, the state FAs will be fined or worst case scenario, play in an empty stadium.
Has it worked? It seems to be working but some people just don't seem to learn their lesson. Lighting up flares to me is not that dangerous but throwing objects from the stands - That's a no-no. It always happens in Malaysia!
Awareness should be created and it is great to see professional players using social media as a platform to create that awareness.
Perak players like Syazwan Roslan and Nasir Basharuddin paid tribute to Bodjongo and also posted words of advise for Malaysian football fans. All they want to do is to play the beautiful game instead of fearing for their lives.
We can't stop hooliganism in one day. Associations are doing their part to curb it but we, as fans should also play our part in raising that awareness.
I hope fans will now understand how serious it is to throw things from the stands and provoke opposition fans during games. Banter is fine but going overboard will aggravate things!
Bodjongo just wanted to play the beautiful game but now, his life has been taken away from the pitch that gave him lots of joy. I hope this incident is a lesson to all! I'm also hoping that the Algerian authorities will be able to arrest the perperator real soon.
My deepest condolences to his family back in Cameroon. Bodjongo will always be a 'Yeob' for Perak fans!