Obi the Monkey dreams that one day he might become as intelligent as his best friend Chaz the Chimpanzee. But that’s never going to happen because - as Chaz reminds him every day - Obi is just a stupid monkey. Chaz knows lots of fascinating facts that even the cleverest monkey wouldn’t know . . . like which animal can run the fastest, or which animal can jump the highest, or which animal has the best memory. Being a stupid monkey, Obi doesn’t know any of these things. If only he knew one or two facts of his own he wouldn’t feel so foolish next to Chaz.
One day Chaz tells Obi that the reason he is so clever is because he visits the Fact Tree, which is hidden deep in the jungle. The magical tree is covered with sparkling facts and Chaz assures Obi that he will become the cleverest monkey on the meadow if he can find the tree and pick facts from its branches. Obi is not sure if going into the jungle is a good idea. He has never left the meadow before and the jungle is full of hungry crocodiles and dangerous swamps. Ignoring the warnings of his friends, Obi sets off unaware that he is making the same journey that a party of human explorers made seventy-five years ago.It is the summer of 1938 and a party of men led by the famous explorer Edward Jackson has come to Africa in search of the world’s largest diamond. They have travelled through the jungle searching for a meadow where, according to legend, huge diamonds are to be found deep below its dusty red soil. Following Jackson’s map, the explorers discover the meadow – a beautiful clearing in the jungle that is home to many animals. They set up camp and begin to dig for diamonds.
When they are not working in the mine, the men love to play football. In one of their crates is a leather ball and football strips. Each evening, after a hard day’s work in the mine, the men play football, watched by curious animals.
One day the men discover a huge diamond - so large and beautiful that it will make them all rich and famous – and they name it the African Queen. Jackson, however, has other ideas and he sneaks off into the jungle with the African Queen in a leather pouch around his neck. Discovering that the diamond has gone, the other men chase after Jackson, but they soon get lost and none of them is ever seen again. All that remains of the miners of is a crate of football strips and a deserted football pitch in the middle of the meadow.
Seventy-five years after the disappearance of Jackson and his fellow explorers, Obi discovers the leather pouch, hanging from a branch of the Fact Tree. Obi believes that he had found the biggest fact in the world and that it will make him the cleverest monkey on the meadow.
On his way home Obi meets Paulie, an African Grey parrot, who has recently returned from London. Paulie tells Obi that he lived in the house of a mankinder who loved to watch football on television. According to Paulie there isn’t a parrot anywhere who has watched so much football.
Just as Obi returns to the meadow and begins to tell his friends about his adventure, the Big Cats appear. Led by a fearsome lion called Boss, the Big Cats are searching for a place of their own to spend the rainy season. The Big Cats are also a formidable football team. Boss challenges the Meadow animals to a football match. If the Meadow animals win the Big Cats will depart, but if the Big Cats win, Obi and his friends must leave the meadow forever.
Since the animals know nothing about football and have no chance of beating the Big Cats, they accept their fate and prepare to leave the meadow. But Obi, whose confidence has grown since discovering the Fact Tree, persuades them to stay and fight for their home. Paulie the Parrot agrees to teach the animals how to play football.
The animals struggle to learn the game and are confused by Paulie’s instructions and tactics. Things get worse when Boss returns to the meadow with a tiger named Bex, who is the Big Cats’ striker and the best footballer in Africa. The meadow animals become more demoralised when they learn that the Big Cats team has never lost a football match.
However, Obi’s football skills improve dramatically and he soon becomes the best player amongst the animals. While his team- mates are amazed at his new skills, Obi believes that it is the magical power of the African Queen which is responsible for his new-found ability. Obi discovers lots of new things that he can do when he is wearing the pouch around his neck and his self-belief increases further.
The scene is set for the most important football match in the history of the African jungle.
Meadow United versus the Big Cats!