Excited like a child, I went to the newspaper kiosk this morning to get something I’d been hoping and waiting for. Because of all the stress I had recently, I’d almost forgotten all about it, but with this last chance I was going to get it. And the moment I held it in my hands, the sports newspaper with the supplement, I realised: yes, it’s that time again – time for the Football World Cup!
This is much more than a sports competition – every four years, the best national teams of the world (the ones that got through the qualification stage, that is, which is pretty tough and many times knocks out even great teams with a long history) meet and play each other for four weeks, until the winner is determined: the World Champion.
I know, to a non-football fan it doesn’t mean a thing – except for being annoyed by everybody else watching football all day, every day, for weeks. But even if you’ve never given a hoot about football, try and understand, and get into the spirit – the World Cup is a special event: it’s a celebration, it unites fans, it unites people, it unites the world. Just like the Olympic Games, and maybe even more so.
Isn’t it a lovely spectacle, all those flags and colours, the national anthems, people meeting people; and if, like most of us, you can’t be there, you can certainly feel it when you watch it on TV! The World Cup is the biggest TV broadcasting event in the world; literally billions of people watch it.
Supporting your country’s team has got nothing to do with nationalism; it’s a healthy way of showing you’re proud of your country, and your team. And besides respecting the opponents, you also get a great chance to get to know them, their supporters, their country; cultures from all around the world meet and greet during this great big party! And if your own country doesn’t take part, support someone else – in my case, the choice isn’t difficult; Greece, my adopted country, isn’t there, but my sweetheart’s adopted country, England, is, so I’ll be a stout supporter of Gareth Southgate’s team…
As for the football experts, many say that national team football just isn’t up to the standards of club football nowadays – Real Madrid, for example, who just won the Champions League, are a conglomerate of the best and the most expensive players from all over the world, and they could probably beat any national team. There’s a very good article in that supplement I got today, though, that says exactly what all real World Cup fans think: many times, during a World Cup, players surpass themselves, show their real talent, write football history. There WILL be magic moments, that’s for sure; and most of all, it’s a great fiesta – a time to feel like a child again!
I’ve been a football fan all my life; I remember every World Cup since 1986 (starring Maradona, who is now considered by many the greatest player of all time; he featured on all our teenie magazines, on posters and stickers and toys), and I’ve got a complete collection of albums from all the competitions. And now that I’m 45, my daughter is just writing her final exams, I’m struggling with my career as a writer and with my translations, I’m far away from my sweetheart at the moment (though we’ll watch at least the second half of the World Cup together), I guess I need this magic more than ever before – collecting stickers, filling in the results in the supplement, cheering for my team. Man, it’s GOOD to feel like a kid again!