Tuesday, July 8, 2014

I don't care if you don't like soccer. My take on The World Cup.

In the spirit of the beautiful game and the upcoming semi-finals and championship game of the World Cup this weekend, I am posting my newest column (which hasn't been posted online yet). I'm also posting this with the original title. Haha. What can I say?

I don’t care if you don’t like soccer. The World Cup has taken over my household and everyone in it and around it. Daily televised games are turned on whether I have housework or writing to do – it must be playing in the background. It has taken hostage of my Twitter account and as well my Facebook. It holds me in its thrall as I watch nation after nation stride proudly out onto the pitch and sing their national anthems with a fervor I’ve little seen anywhere else. I wait impatiently to see the fans in the stands wear their colors and crazy uniforms signifying love for their team. I hang on every world those lovely Euro announcers say. The world, at least from what I see on social media and on TV, comes together for one month in June. Every four years. They come together for love of a game that holds not enough love in the country I call my own.

I’ve written before on soccer and how my love for it didn’t come until I met my husband. Of course, we all know that Hiland was the only area team to have soccer because we didn’t have football. I can’t count how many jokes have been leveled at Hiland players because of our “lack” of American football. Lack? Sad day indeed for those, I think, to not have been introduced to soccer. Without the beautiful game there would never be words and phrases like the pitch, set pieces, velvet touch, or “This could be a clever ball!”

 My husband was an amazing soccer player. He gave up a tryout in the Mexican leagues to come to the USA permanently and get married. To me. For that, I owe him a love for soccer like no other. I believe I yell louder than him during games. I get more angry than him when we lose. I pout in a corner and tweet the night away when I can’t accept a loss. He knows me and lets me have my time. Then I move on. He told me that when fall comes, and I have no children in high school soccer, that he would play on a team so I could watch again. He said, “Don’t worry, babe, I’ll join a team just so you can cheer again!” All kidding aside, he knows how much soccer means to our family. It’s a bond that brings us together, made us fight and have heated conversations, brought tears, and also brought the greatest joy. We weren’t the family that made our kids play year-round soccer and do everything imaginable. We felt that would take the joy out of it. The love would disappear if it was mandatory. These were the right choices as our kids now move on to bigger and better things, yet retaining that love for soccer they felt so deeply. All we have to say is, “The game is on!” and everyone comes running.

The World Cup, as you read this, will enter its final week. The championship will be held on July 13th and an entire globe will hold its collective breath as they crown a world champion - not a national champion. The beautiful game brings people together. It makes fans out of people that swore a dislike for soccer their whole lives. I believe it’s the camaraderie that is shown in the fan base, the oneness and singular passion that bursts through the TV screen. It is also felt on the local pitches, those patches of green and dust where little feet scrabble and kick. Those feet who grow up to learn how to bend and weave the ball like magic as it slices through the air. The net that kicks back with a whoosh to receive the ball and the scream, as one, of the fans who breathlessly await that long worked for goal. Those goals that come in very small numbers, because you must work tirelessly to achieve one. Like life.