The year was 2002. My first World Cup.
I was working at an Insurance company Downtown, and was mesmerized by the fact that they had televisions in their cafeteria which enabled its staff to view the World Cup matches during breakfast and shortly after lunch. That was the coolest thing about that job, being able to watch the matches and hearing the locals comment and jeer each other.
It was then that I noticed the German team.
That year marked my entry into second year at university. By then I was a seasoned footballer myself, playing the left-wing defence mainly because none of the other girls would chance playing on their left foot. But as a defender I watched the German team and was in awe of their tactical advances, their efficiency, their cool, calm, and collected countenance on the field, and most of all their defence.
Let me ‘splain something to you. While I was a defender I played for my department’s female football team, and I went on to train with the University’s Female Football team as well. As a defender I’m known for being sturdy, rigid, unmoving . . . you get the picture, right?! I’ve played with guys who’ve cried and complained about how rough I play, but the fact of the matter is, football is a rough sport.
If I, a girl, can take the ball off of your foot then maybe football isn’t for you.
I was taught to use my body to my advantage (we would say “Body up di man”), shield the ball, and always, always get the ball out of our half. That’s what I know about defence. So when I saw a team embodying that exact concept I knew then and there that that was my team.
I watched the German team play their way to the finals and yes, they lost to Brazil, but that hasn’t phased my admiration for this team. I saw a strong team, a team of men who weren’t afraid of the rough nature of the game, men who knew how to play with each other, who knew how to defend, how to attack, how to stand strong and were not easily moved.
Every World Cup since I’ve been a German supporter, albeit a quiet one for various reasons. Being someone of my colour with my last name, people automatically assumed I had some German ancestry and that’s why I must support them. I have no knowledge of that. Some would even go so far as to suggest that I support Germany because I’m utilitarian just like them, which is probably more accurate than the first assumption. But, I’ve always supported them from the quiet confines of my home or cubicle.
This year however, things have changed. In Jamaica, we have a tendency to label people bandwaggonists because it seems they choose the more popular teams like Brazil, Argentina, England, Spain and Portugal. So I decided to claim my side before I could be labelled as such.
I bought my little German flag and promptly displayed it on my cubicle at work. Of course I got the jeers and the questions about my heritage, but that didn’t faze me this time.
But what has caught my eye this time around is the number of German supporters I’ve seen around the place, supporters who’ve bought their German flags and have them proudly displayed on their cars.
I’ve never felt this proud to support a team that’s not Jamaican, and the fact that Germany is now at the finals . . . whew! Nobaddy, and I mean NOBADDY can chat to me! DWL!
At this point, it doesn’t matter to me whether Germany wins, lose, or goes to penalty shoot-out with Argentina come this Sunday. I will always support Germany because I feel and believe they are a better team than most. Let me rephrase that: they are a team, unlike most.
I am thrilled they’ve gotten so far, not that I’ve doubted their ability, they’ve made it to the semi-finals and the finals more than I can count. So if they lose on Sunday, so be it.
But woaw be onto Messi and his Backup Singers (Argentina) and their fans if Germany eva beat dem, worse if they annihilate them like they did Brazil.
Woaw mi seh!
Mi dun talk!