You may have noticed a lack of posts over the last month. Blame the World Cup…
With World Cup 2014’s recent conclusion, I felt like this would be the perfect time to talk about how travel turn me into a soccer fan.
I was born and raised in Canada (with a couple years in the USA). In North America, soccer is generally looked as something you play as a kid and that’s where it ends. You don’t really watch profession soccer or play much once you leave school. It’s just not that popular. But North America is the only part of the world who views it this way. I have my own theories as to why soccer hasn’t caught on as a popular sport in North America yet, but that’s not what this post is about. The real question is: how did this Canadian girl with no interest in sports in general become a soccer fanatic?
In short: Germany.
At 17 I moved to Germany as a Rotary exchange student. I left for Germany in August 2008 but just a few months before that, it was the Euro Cup. Knowing I would soon be in Germany, I tuned in. Why not experience a little culture before going, right? Never watching a full professional soccer match before, a decent portion of the time was spent deciphering the game. It was slightly more complex than the last game I played as a kid because let’s face it, kids get the jest of soccer but really just run in clumps after a ball. So, did the 2008 Euro Cup turn me into a soccer fan? Nope. It was just my introduction.
Now, actually in Germany is when things really started to develop. I would hear people talk about the German Bundesliga and their team with such conviction. It made me want to join in. I’m the kind of person that can get excited about anything and love when people get so passionate about something. It makes me get excited and interesting in it as well. I read up on some of the history of the sport and became familiar with some of the great names of the past. I watched even more matches and started to appreciate the skill and athleticism soccer takes.
I went to a game while living in Germany. Now, I think this is where things got solidified for me. Sure, seeing and hearing people talk so passionately about a game can get a little infectious, but to experience it first hand is something else. The thing is, it was a second diversion match. These weren’t even the top tier teams but the fans were just as enthusiastic as if this was the World Cup final (though possibly just below that since no tears were shed – you get my point). The drums, chants, and constant yelling, it’s like the fans are more invested in the game than the players… And I loved it!
By the time I came back to Canada, I was officially hooked. Toronto FC was only a few years old by this time and I immediately became a fan of my hometown team (despite our history of being lousy). Once getting GolTV, I started watching the Spanish League and eventually started supporting Real Madrid as my main team (… that I’m going to see play in August! AHHHH!!). I was kind of disappointed that the majority of my friends here don’t understand why I love soccer the way they love hockey. But it’s always great to find another die-hard soccer fan in a country where the general public doesn’t appreciate it. Part of me likes that Canada has a small but passionate soccer community, part of me wishes it would reach ice hockey popularity status.
P.S. I don’t like hockey. Shhhh.