It’s that time of year where as an American I question why we haven’t embraced the sport of football as the beautiful, elegant and exciting sport that it is. I no longer watch American football. One for political reasons and well, it’s fucking boring to me now. It’s too slow, it lacks finesse and momentum. Others might disagree, and they can start writing their own blog.
I became enamoured by the game when I became an ESL instructor in San Francisco. My early days involved teaching quite a few Brazilians. Most were Corinthians fans. It has been my experience that Brazilians are by far the craziest football enthusiasts on the planet. You see the sport pulsing through their veins. Even if their team is the worst in the standings their team is the best. The love for the game is definitely infectious. Bringing that exuberance and confidence into the English classroom is appreciated because it can bring out good things in other students.
If you can get your students to relate and personalize the language, the more they will want to use it. Football is that thing that most students have in common and can speak about. I needed to get to know this game. I wanted to relate to my students. As I watched and hung out with students I recognized the skill, strength, and endurance involved. All of the players have to have this. I could see how a goal could cause an earthquake created by fans in a major city. Goals are fucking hard.
I began to watch Premier League and research different club histories and players. Didier Drogba drew me to Chelsea. It is the respect I held for him as a person and player that I follow his career. Chelsea’s record got me hooked and well, I like blue and Lions. Don’t get me wrong, baseball and the San Francisco Giants are my heart. Football just allows me to connect internationally. Football has helped me related and be relateable. Now, here in Vietnam, during the World Cup, I can say that I enjoy being in a culture where football is their everyday life.
Cafes, country wide, stay open late showing games into the wee hours of the morning. Most chairs are taken up. Families gather in apartments with their children running up and down the hallways kicking a ball. I love seeing that. It’s going to be a good month.
For me, rooting for a team never was about national loyalty. It never will be. I’m always going to be team Brazil due to how I came to the game. As each team is getting eliminated though, I do root for the team with the darkest complexion. I know that sounds statistically and scientifically driven.
Football has brought some good people in my life. I miss my San Francisco City F.C. crew. It has to be a group that just makes everything feel right. I like football and there are some deep fans of the sport in this group. I learn a lot from them and enjoy raising a beer or two or six with them. It’s just fucking fun.
I hope Brazil goes to the end. At the same time I just want to see the games and enjoy watching it with other people who know it, like it and have passion for it.