Footie fever hits home

Footie fever hits home

World cup mania

Football fever is burning high… And Brazil is the place to be! The constant roar of crowds, crowds singing en masse, strangers embracing or fighting over whose team is better… the sights and sounds are guaranteed to send any football fan into ecstasy

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 The elegant Brazilian style versus the clinical Dutch and the military German precision — what a visual treat we are experiencing now! The speed with which Arjen Robben runs down the field, the touch that Lionel Messi uses, the finesse that sets Andrea Pirlo apart… 

What? Don’t you know football? Oops, my mistake. So you are one of those who are not having a good time now. I know how it feels, because I’m a recent convert to the religion of football myself. I converted because I found myself an alien in my own home. 

I knew football fever aka World Cup football was coming up, thanks to stray hints and bits of conversations overheard. A suggestion came up, to make the TV room sofa more comfy, in fact more like a bed. The dedicated couch potato that I was, I enthusiastically okayed it: I could watch my favourite shows while recumbent. Little did I know that I was literally signing my fave spot in the house away. Stashes of snacks were laid in, and I was ecstatic over the development. Best of all, one day I turned on the TV and found that hitherto unknown channels had cropped up. I was over the moon. 

I should have known better. Conversation at home — and fights — that were only local in nature, now became international. “Can you believe Suarez is having a knee operation a month before Brazil!” my husband exclaimed once. I offered my sympathy and also my advice. I too had had a knee operation. “Tell him to rest up for a month or two, and then he can start walking around,” I said, and he looked at me in horror. I was duly informed that Suarez was Uruguay’s leading forward, and that he had to be there for the team to perform well. It was now my turn to be horrified. Play football within a month of a knee operation? I went straight to bed and rested all day, praying intermittently for the poor kid. 

Then I heard that Iker Casillas may be dropped from the Spanish squad. Into the gloom, I tried to reassure my man that there will be other people there to play for Spain, and got an earful about what a good goalkeeper this guy was. I shut up.Well, I could do with speaking less, I reasoned. They did say that speaking less made you healthier. But then my husband did the unthinkable: he converted the kids. He is football-mad, and foolishly I thought that my daughters may be spared the insanity. But when the TV stayed on at all hours, with him exclaiming, moaning, groaning and jumping up, the kids naturally got hooked. And being kids, they rapidly began absorbing the terminology and the players’ names and bio-data as well.

As days passed, conversations began to go entirely over my head. Names were mentioned that I had no clue about. Drogba, Uchida, Van Persie, Gerrard, Oscar, Neymar, Dos Santos, Podolski, Klose… just who were these people my family knew so much about? And what was the big deal about offside and penalties?I quickly realised that if I didn’t join the family football madness, things may come to such a pass that I would have to introduce myself to my husband and kids on July 14. So I have learned a few things.

First of all, Uruguay and Cote d’Ivoire are not the names of diseases, they are football-playing countries. And, a country may have a population of only 2 million people or be in abject poverty, but still produce a world-class football team. Don’t eat your heart out, wondering about why India never qualifies for the World Cup.While watching a clash between two countries, figure out who the best players are, and keep a look out for them. This will make those 90 minutes (plus stoppage time) more bearable. Being able to drop names like Robben, Honda and Rooney strategically in conversations doesn’t hurt either.

Accept that football players are whiny tattle tales. A huge brawny tattooed midfielder will collapse like a ton of bricks and fall down if an opposing player so much as breathes on him, and then complain and make puppy eyes at the referee until he gets to kick the ball and a lollypop.

Goals are times when you get to see body show. If you love to see rippled muscles, don’t miss out; if it gives you a complex, look away. It is also when there is an overt show of affection among grown men. If it embarrasses you to see men kissing each other, please do look away.

Finally, here is an absolute no-no: NEVER get caught wondering, “Well, if they all want the ball that badly, why don’t they buy one each for themselves?” You’ll never be able to live it down.

Good luck making it through the final! And be sure to keep watching!

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