Exuberance is the only word that adequately expresses the goings-on in Russia this past month, with the nations competing against each other at the amazing 2018 World Cup Soccer event.
It will surely be remembered as the Soccer World Cup of last-minute-goals. This is what brought out the exuberance of the players, the fans, and the TV world watchers around the world, of which I was one ardent couch spectator.
What excitement and happiness and what disappointment and despair all wrapped up in this extreme emotion of exuberance – blatantly and un-ashamedly displayed for all to see. How nice to see man at his best – happy ! (and isn’t man at his happiest when he is chasing a ball !!) Nevertheless, it was as if a veil was momentarily lifted and license had been given to be who you are and who you shout the loudest for. All the trappings of pretence and reserve removed in a moment of patriotic loyalty; done without threat or fear, in the manner that the sport of Soccer provided for four weeks for the whole world to see.
Amazing was the fitness and stamina of these players. Honed through months, and for some years, hard practise, discipline and dedication. To be coached, mentored and primed to this pinnacle event, held every four years. Soldiers of Soccer prepared for gigantic battles to be fought with everything that is in them. The last time I viewed such absolute verve and determination was with the movie Brave Heart, but that was just a movie – this is real-life passion, played out in Soccer. The passion that drove these young men was astounding to observe. Their never give up attitudes, their falling down, some spiralling extra spins for show and penalties, some vehemently arguing their way out of yellow cards, and in some cases unfair decisions – letting the moment of frenzy play out to their advantage. Soccer is seemingly not just a sport of great scintillating foot skills, but clever psychological manoeuvres as well. A combination of clever head and footwork ! But it is the combination of stamina and that vital ingredient passion that made me watch men at their best, doing what they do best.
Interestingly too, was the transition taking place. One generation of soccer players moving on to make room for a new generation of younger players. That was perhaps the reason for the unexpected wins of the less likely teams to go through to the quarter and semi finals. One could almost see a wave breaking, and new time players and teams emerging onto this world stage.
Loved “braziliant” Brazil, as my son named them, and their samba soccer. Such exciting soccer to watch. The English and Belgium teams, grounded and steadfast. The Colombians were a little too hot-headed and undisciplined. The sad, but perhaps timely exit of the “old establishment” soccer nations. And all the noisy grandstanding crowds ridiculous yet colourful in their apparel of capes and wigs and painted faces. A real carnival of the nations.
Happy times make happy memories, and this Russia has surely provided. What a memorable, and extremely well organised event, that show-cased their nation in the best way possible – capitalizing on making Russia a definite win, in spite of their courageous team, not quite making it to the grand finale.
At the end of it all, Soccer as a sport, scored the final winning goal, by bringing the nations together.
Its been exciting, exhilarating and exuberant to watch – momentary escapism at its best !
Now excuse me as I mount up my munchies bowl and puff up my cushion to take up the best seat, for the last week of this grand tournament of super soccer nations, my couch.
And may the best team win.