I can vividly recall the resounding idiophone-like clings of metal spoons hitting the bottom end of large dutch pots. The announcer, in the islands shared excitement, exclaimed, “Jamaica has qualified for the 1998 FIFA world cup!” Shortly after this triumphant feat Prime Minister, P.J. Patterson declared the following day- a Monday I believe- a holiday.
At the hands of Brazilian coach Rene Simoes the Reggae Boyz made it to France. I remember those moments vividly. How elated my brothers were and how everyone ran out of their homes and into the streets to recount that last goal and share in the island’s pride. That’s when I fell in love with the beautiful game.
Long before I could make my own informative picks, I learnt that I was a Brazilian fan. Most every Jamaican man has been brought up under the likings of football and cricket; and almost every household has been trained to favor the Brazilian and/or the West Indies teams respectively. I developed great respect for ballers like Pele and Ronaldo but it was not until the 2002 World Cup that my love for Brazil went beyond sheer waggonism. By this time I had developed a solid interest in league football (English Premiere League, to be precise). I developed individual interests in players and their styles. I was a bonafide Gunners (Arsenal) fan and slowly became entangled in La Liga due to the UEFA championships. A true waggonist at the time I jumped on the FC Barcelona band waggon. Ronaldo (Lima, not Cristiano) had left the team some years prior and was now playing with another power house, Real Madrid. The Brazilian player I became completely enamored with, the footballer who drew me to FCB just one year after his performance in the World Cup was the incomparable Ronaldinho. Since then, I’ve remained a huge Barcelona fan and to this day am proud to be a die-hard Brazilian fan as well.
As a football fan, I realized that the investment one places in a game is truly unlike anything seen or experienced for any other sport. After the US vs Portugal game, many of my American friends got a glimpse of what the rest of the world often experiences. That pause your life takes for those 90 minutes; the clenching anticipation and genuine emotional investment; the feelings of triumph that can so easily be engulfed by shattering moments of disappointment. You finally get it….
In the spirit of kinship, we took the streets (Facebook and Twitter) and asked,
“YOU KNOW FOOTBALL IS YOUR RELIGION WHEN…? This is what we got…
8. You actually know what it means to be “offside”.
9. You know what a “false 9” is.
10. You talk about games like you minored in numerology, ” If they were defending a lead or field a 4-5-1 formation then they would have had better results. ..No they should have used a 4-4-2, what did they expect wid just one forward…A traditional 4-2-4 is what they should have come with at the pitch.”
11. You have a back up means of watching games. Just in case there’s a sudden power outage lasting 45-90 minutes, you’ve made sure your phone is fully charged and the rigged live-streaming site is bookmarked in your settings…Just in case.
12. I’m gonna pee, eat, answer the phone, call her back, feed the baby, as soooon as the first half is finished, I promised.
13. Your friends would never be so rude as to physically call during the game. A text will do…Please and Thanks.
14. You have spent more than a fair number of hours entangled in Messi vs Ronaldo debates.
15. The number 10 means a lot to you.…like a lot. Just the mention of the number brings a minimum 5 players to mind.
16. You just don’t have the authentic team Jersey. You have a flag, a wool banner/scarf, a cap, some face paint, a few body stickers and whole costume you pull out, but only for special occasions.
17. There is a game day routine, and everyone in your house knows it. Please do not disrupt the process.
18. Your bracket sheet is not a reflection of your team favorites. You respect the sport too much to pretend that just because Argentina has Messi and they’re your favorite team, they’re gonna bring home the cup.
19. Before the transfer window even opens, you already have a list of possible players, and what you consider their respective “fair transfer fees.”
20. And finally, It inexplicably irritates you when Americans refer to football as soccer….It’s called football in damn near EVERY other country.
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