Update from the Land of Soccer

Yeah, I used the word Soccer. Call me blasphemous if you will, but it's just a much better word than Football. Why bother having to always distinguish between the different codes of football when you can just use the one word to refer to the one true sport. It's bad enough you have to draw distinctions between the different siblings in hockey and tennis. Strangely enough though, whenever I use the word soccer, I feel compelled to "correct" myself and throw in the word football. Like the word soccer needs some obfuscation thrown in.

It's been a little over a week now since the world cup started, and I'm feeling the effects. I've seen at least one match per day, gone to see two of them live, and had at least one beer at each of them (with some games like the Mexico vs Angola game where I had many many more). My venue of choice for watching the soccer is a place called Marstallhof, which is basically the uni canteen. They've got a screen set up outside, and you can sit around in the sun to watch the games. You get some pretty good crowds turning up - especially for the German games.

Let's start with the boring match review - France vs Switzerland. The majority of the stadium were out in support of the Swiss that day, while the French group around us were pretty damn vocal. So with support like that, the teams themselves didn't fail to disappoint. We were treated to a 0-0 draw, punctuated by lackluster efforts at the goalmouth. Admittedly, the Swiss had a few good chances - and were royally robbed by the woodwork a few times, but it's the goals that really get the stadium going. In fact, the crowd were so bored, that a large section decided to start chanting in support of Germany. That was pretty weird.

Going nuts

Sorry Ben, I won't harp on about the Swiss any more. Instead I'll harp on about the Australians. That was such an amazing game. I won't go on about the actual match, because I'm sure everyone will be buying the collectors special edition DVD from SBS. The stadium was amazing though, with mass euphoria breaking out at the pointy end of the match. Singing, dancing, cheering - everything. I'm glad I was there to see history being made, and I now have a deeper understanding about what the world cup is about, and the feelings it inspires in supporters. A couple of highlights though would be seeing George Negus and Peter Wilkins roaming around outside the stadium, making fun of the Japanese player with pink shoes, the chant of "Bullshit" going round the stadium for dodgy calls and the brilliant move by someone (couldn't see exactly who) who lifted up one of the Japanese players from inside the Australian penalty area because he was being too big a pansy.

After the game, we roamed the streets of Kaiserslautern for god knows how long, just randomly talking to other Australians (with me talking to some random Germans too - brushing up on my waffling skills). There was a lot of hi-fives being thrown around, some hugging and lots of cheering. On the train back, we just happened to be standing next to a guy and his son, who funnily enough came from Eastwood too - just near Rutledge street. It's a small world.

We arrived in Heidelberg and grabbed some food at a local Indian imbiss (which I may have to go to more often), and then walked down the main street. Now, here was the best bit - walking down the street, wearing my Australian jerseys proudly, people were coming up and congratulating us for the win. We were vicariously sharing in the victory that Australia had worked so hard to get, and even though I knew I did sweet bugger all to help the team, I was loving every single moment of it.


butercup *

It's almost enough to make me care about soccer. *almost*

As for not doing anything to help - there you're wrong. I'm certain I heard a soundbite from some random soccer team member saying "the support of the crowd was awesome and I can't believe how many crazy Aussies came to watch it, they must all be expats or something because I was sure there weren't that many people in Australia who even know what soccer is."

... then again, maybe I was mistaken and that was just me thinking it.

Hiren Joshi *

Maybe I should participate in a bit of ambush marketing. Maybe go to the match wearing Channel 7 caps while trapped under the rubble of inflatable kangaroos, being fed only bananas, and having jovial chats with Mel and Kochie. That'll teach SBS.

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