Yes football... the kicking, dodging, dancing, fancy footwork and general culture surrounding the sport, are things that I absolutely enjoy and look forward to.
Though most Goan families will admit that their children were born with a bias for the sport, I feel like my story was a special case. I didn't start off enjoying it. In fact, as a child, I would stir up an absolute ruckus while my father, brother, mum and uncles would sit around the TV and cheer for their favourite teams.
It wasn't until I was a little older that I started to develop a true appreciation for the game. My father used to play for Air India football club, and I remember listening to his stories as a child. I used to be in awe of this book he had, with all the newspaper cut-outs that carried his name and pictures in it. He even had a little showcase at home dedicated to all his trophies and medals. It really was a sight to see... and boy, did people SEE when they came to visit.
But, I digress. The point is that I started to enjoy the sport when I noticed how well and easily it brought people together. My family would literally stop any work, bickering and chores, just to gather around and watch 90 (and overtime) minutes of soccer. Regardless of the games' outcome, I remember this energy that would always fill the room -- it was contagious. Food and drinks were plentiful... and there was always enough mango juice or lemonade for my brother and me (this was very important). Soon enough, I joined my family and neighbours to indulge in the sport.
When we moved to Canada, I realized how much I missed this sense of belonging and comfort that came along with the sport's culture. I suppose I was more fascinated with that, rather than the game itself.
Canada has this same energy with hockey. However, because Toronto is such a vibrant and multicultural community, there's always an option to visit one of the specific 'country villages' to join in cheering for particular teams.
This is the first year I won't be with my family for the FIFA World Cup. It may not seem like such a big deal in general, but to me, it is. I'll miss the silly arguments with my brother (who ALWAYS roots for the underdog, just to spite me), and the friendly bets with my mum (who, somehow, always ends up winning... even though she begins by supporting the team that ends up losing. You tell me how this works!)
However, the beauty of being away from home this year, specifically, is that one of my dear friends in Korea is from South Africa. She's been spreading the joy of the game - which is being hosted in South Africa this month - for as long as I can remember! C has her outfits ready, the game schedules, and has even set up events where all of us can watch the matches together! This is bliss, with my United Nations family!
I'm really looking forward to the next couple of weeks. I even went out and bought a red Korean soccer jersey to support the Korean Red Devils. It's interesting living in a country again where the game is actually appreciated nationwide.
I'll leave you with "Waka Waka" by Shakira - the official song for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Watch it, listen to it and love it! The beautiful video will have you moving in seconds!
P.S. Be sure to visit One Moment, One Note (a project by SFTC) for some insightful, inspiring and funny moments from people around the world.