For those of you who may not know me, I am a huge HUGE fan of football(or soccer if you aren’t so pretentiously European as I am). I have been following football for a while now and the World Cup is pretty special to me, not just because it is such a major competitive arena, but because of the memories it brings back.
Picture it, Nsumba Uganda 2006, the World Cup hosted by Germany had just begun and I was living in a village without toilets much less electricity and television. Nevertheless, with the undefeatable African spirit, the Men in the next village somehow acquired a generator and a (maybe illegal) satellite and began charging 300 shillings to watch the matches on a white bedsheet (which is a surprisingly good screen). I began walking to the next village everyday after work, grabbing a piece of roasted maize and a bottled coca-cola on the way, and then watching match after match for 300 shillings each. The sense of camaraderie was amazing especially considering I was the only female in the room. It didn’t seem to matter though and we all slapped each other high-fives when our teams would score and yell at the referee when he made a poor call. It was really electric and exciting. Until the US played Ghana. That’s when things got a bit sticky. I was cheering for the US. They were cheering for Ghana. When the US scored I leapt up from my seat and turned to high-five whoever was next to me. What I found was men, still in their seats, staring at me without expression. Something had changed. A few of them laughed at me in a good natured way to let me know we would still be friends when this match was over. Anyway, Ghana won so they were happy.
Fast forward a few weeks to the final match of the 2006 World Cup. France v. Italy. I was now living and studying in England and was crammed into a pub with about 300 other people. My favorite footballer of all time Zinedine Zidane was playing his final World Cup match. Then he headbutted Marco Materazzi (who totally deserved it) earning Zidane a red card and expulsion from the match. The pub went mad and there was beer flying all over the place and general chaos. I loved every second of it. After the match, which Italy won, the madness flooded into the streets and people were singing and cheering and honking their horns and it was just such an amazing thing to be a part of and I will never forget it.
So now, finally after 4 long years of waiting, the 2010 World Cup is upon us and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Although the 2006 World Cup will always hold a special place in my heart. Unless the US actually wins- then this one will totally take that special place in my heart and dominate it. Happy watching everyone!!! Support your teams!!!!