So unless you live under a rock, you've heard about the ongoing FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) soccer matches. I wanted to write about this because, of course, I have an opinion about it, but also because I know there are others out there that judge the madness behind the sports and the fans that express their, let's call it affection, for their team. I want to be authentic in my "forza azzurri" chants and what all this means to me.
First of all, I would like to clarify that I am not an extremist diehard fan as some may be. Soccer, to me, truly is just a game involving placing a ball in a gigantic net. That being said, I cannot relate to or identify myself as a knowledgeable individual who truly understands the rules of the game, the history of the players and other participating teams. I don't even know most of the players names...apart from Pirlo and Buffon since they have been there for so long and anyone with a well-functioning memory will remember them from previous World cups - okay and Balotelli because of his controversial situation and Salvatore since he replaced Buffon at the last game and it was a big deal. That's pretty much it. Therefore, one could easily categorize me as a rookie or a fake fan even since I maybe do not appreciate the true passion behind the sport. That's cool, and actually, I agree if that's the definition of a true fan to you.
Associations to childhood memories
To me, however, the team of "Azzurri" represents something else. The first thing I associate the Italian soccer team with is to my cousins and my sister who were huge fans of the sport back in the nineties and would have debates on the matter, hang posters on the wall (that are still proudly hanging at my grand parents' home and bring me back each time I visit their basement kitchen) and cheer for their favorite players. I remember admiring their love for the game and got a kick out of their excitement, it got me excited for something too (of course, everything they did was super cool and I wanted to be part of it...the second born child syndrome).
Where you're from
The second element that I associate the "Azzurri" to is none other than my ancestors, the place where my blood comes from. Both my parents were born there so I (and my sister and cousins) are part of the first generation born here in Canada. As you may have read from my previous post, we have a close connection to Italy, going back quite often and having been taught the language. Identifying to our roots, I think, is something that triggers the hearts of many in supporting theirs team(s). You can't help but think "hey! that's the country I'm from or that my family is from, go team!". Even if soccer means nothing to you, the simple fact of seeing a country that you identify with play against another will unveil any stick of competitiveness you may have and the sudden need to be part of the euphoric enthusiasm that is cheering for you team(s). Just like the Habs have twice as more fans during the play-offs in hopes to reach the Stanley Cup, it is no surprise to see fans rise to support their country during the WORLD cup.
Expressiveness and emotions
If you're an introvert - chances are you are quietly cheering in your head and you'd rather die than be caught at a crowded sports bar hearing "Gooooooooooaaaaalllll!" and the cries of joy that inevitably follow. Thos places are buzzing and usually over charged with fans and energy.
I DIGRESS: but for the record, about extroverts, we (because yes I am majorly extroverted and thereby include myself) get fueled by BEING with others. We don't take energy from others or take anything away from anyone. I once saw a video sort of defending introverted individuals, which was fine and all, but it depicted extroverts as selfish in "stealing" the energy of the more conservative. Sorry, that is wrong, if you think so it is only because you're an introvert and being around people too much drains you. Which is totally acceptable, but let's not wrongfully cast the blame on the expressive kind shall we? Extroverts generate their own energy in their own way, as introverts do, full stop. No one is better than the other.
Ahhh! sorry, I had to express that ;)
A third element that rallies the fans in their loud cheerful habits is the expressivity of sports. Us fans get to scream, curse, wear brightly colored jerseys, paint our faces and feast on nachos with our best friends while we watch our country's team perform. Obviously, the highly social and extroverted citizens of this world will be participating in such activities and express their love for the game and/or country(ies). Just like when I was little wanting to be a part of my cousins and my sister's circle of excitement for the game, these expressive behaviors during the soccer matches allow us fans to feel part of something important, a world wide event. We can connect with strangers and cheer with them. We can forget a few troubles and worries for a while and, as a crowd, let our emotions fly free as we rejoice or feel sadness (that's right, emotions get involved, you'll be in touch with them like it or not). Finally, we can admire the pride that remains amongst those wearing their jerseys and painted faces, even after defeat. It was a good game after all.
That, to me, is what fans are all about.
Cheers and of course, FORZA ITALIA!!!
My name is Ivana. I love photography and meeting people. I hold a Master's in counselling psychology and work as a career consultant. Music is my fuel and an important source of energy in my life. I drive my vespa around the city and I love what I do! :) About this blog: me on my artistic soap box!
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