June 22, 2010

Soccer World Cup 2006

Posted in Children, Travel tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 6:44 am by Liliana

World Cup Victory, 2006

World Cup Victory, 2006

When my daughter Nena and nephew Sasha graduated from high school four years ago, they went on a trip to Europe. We have family in Holland, so that central little country became their home base. They stayed with relatives for a few days, then set off on trains with their student Eurail tickets.

That summer of 2006, most of the world, and Europe in particular, was inflamed with soccer fever. Germany was hosting the World Cup, so every country on the continent wanted to show off its national skills and prove its superior soccer technique.

In Brussels, the ancient markets had the latest soccer paraphernalia for sale. In Paris, while eating crepes and strolling in the shadows of the Eiffel Tower, the kids heard blaring television and radio sets and kept track of the scores. From Paris to Bordeaux, they argued with a number of rowdy Australian students about the greatness of players like Zinedine Zidane and Marco Materazzi.

While marveling at Gaudi’s buildings in Barcelona, they heard the news that the French beat the Spaniards. French fans appeared out of nowhere, filling the streets with French flags, language and songs. The kids walked with the victors, sang and celebrated.

But it wasn’t until they came to Rome, that they realized what blazing soccer fever really meant. The Italians were frenzied. The kids sat in cafes for hours, watching games and rooting for – who else – the Italians! And then, on their last day in the city, Italy won the tournament.

What can I say, it was a wild celebration any way you look at it, and Nena and Sasha never made it to their student hostel that night. They walked around the streets of Rome for hours and hours with thousands of other revelers. Sasha got a hold of a couple of huge Italian flags and they carried them around, shouting, singing, proclaiming the superiority of everything Italian.

In the morning, as they caught the train to Holland, they heard the news that the next World Cup was taking place in South Africa.

And here it is now – the summer of 2010. Where will these kids be four years from now?