Yes, R.U.A. I was very pleased, the important thing for me being to play. I fretted with impatience from Sunday to Thursday, for training day, and from Thursday to Sunday, match day. So I joined the university men. And there I was, goalkeeper of the junior team. Yes, it all seemed quite easy. But I didn't know that I had just established a bond that would endure for years, embracing every stadium in the Department, and which would never come to an end. I did not know then that twenty years after, in the streets of Paris or even Buenos Aires (yes, it happened to me) the words R.U.A. spoken by a friend I met would make my heart beat again as foolishly as could be.
At full-back I had the Big Fellow -- I mean Raymond Couard. He had a tough time of it, if I remember correctly. We used to play hard. Students, their fathers' sons, don't spare themselves. Poor us, in every sense, a good half of us mown down like corn! We had to face up to it. And we had to play "sportingly", because that was the Golden Rule of the R.U.A., and "strongly", because, when all is said and done, a man is a man. Difficult compromise! This cannot have changed, I am sure.
The hardest team was Olympic Hussein Dey. The stadium is beside the cemetery. They made us realize, without mercy, that there was direct access. As for me, poor goalkeeper, they went for my body.
Camus was once asked by his friend Charles Poncet which he preferred, football or the theatre -- Camus is said to have replied 'Football, without hesitation.'
Any hopes Camus had of playing serious football were dashed after he contracted TB. There was no cure for the condition at that time and attacks resulted in long and painful periods of bed-rest. Before his illness, Camus played in goal for the Racing Universitaire Algerios (RUA) junior team. Match reports often had high praise for Camus, who played bravely and with passion.
When he was asked, in the fifties, by an alumni sports magazine to write a few words about his time with the RUA his piece included the following words:"After many years during which I saw many things, what I know most surely about morality and the duty of man I owe to sport and learned it in the RUA."
People have read more into these words than, perhaps, Camus would want them to. He was referring to a kind of simple morality he wrote about in his early essays, an ethic of sticking up for your friends, of valuing courage and fair-play. Camus believed that the people of politics and religion try to confuse us with convoluted moral systems to make things appear more complicated than they really are, possibly to suit their own agendas. People may do better to look to the simple morality of the football field than to politicians and philosophers.
Tizi-Ouzou, panoramic view from Amjudh: photo by Said026, 2009
Albert Camus: photo by Robert Edwards, 1957
"Camus was once asked...": from The Albert Camus Society of the UK
Zinedine Zidane, World Cup final, July 9, 2006: photo by David Ruddell, 2006
"At any street corner....": Albert Camus, from The Myth of Sisyphus, 1942
Albert Camus reading the sport page, n.d.: photo via the Telegraph