The Euro 2012 started yesterday, today is Germany's first match and I’m pretty excited about that. Time to think about how it is to live in a country full of football lunatics.
It starts when we are small kids. Whenever we are out with our parents – in the park, on the playground or just in our back garden – if there’s a ball in sight we’ll probably start playing football with our fathers. That’s just their job, playing football with us. When I was small I was sure that my Dad is the greatest football player in the world (which he’s not, sorry, Dad!). The first football player I’ve known even had the same name as my DadJ.
When my baby brother was old enough, of course, he started playing football. Unfortunately he didn’t like it that much… Anyway, my Dad went to nearly every match of our local team and I remember sitting in front of the telly just looking for him in the crowd. Back then there weren’t lots of girls football teams where I lived otherwise I would have probably wanted to play as well.
When you grow up in a football nation it doesn’t matter how old you are, male or female, if you meet someone, they’ll probably ask you at some point if you like football and which team you support. I have to confess, I was never that crazy about it but I enjoy watching a match, especially with friends or at the stadium, it’s just a nice atmosphere. Ate the world cup 2002 I told my Mom, I wanted to go to a match. She said no. Well, I haven’t mentioned that I was sixteen and the games took place in Japan and South Korea, have I? I was pretty mad at her anyway and told her, I’ll go next time. “You’ll be twenty by then, you can do whatever you want” was her answer and she left me standing there, embarrassed. Oh, what a brat I was…
I didn’t go in 2006 either but this was pure craziness. The World Cup was in Germany and everybody went completely crazy. Public viewing became a huge thing and wherever you went there was football. On telly, on big screens, people dressed up themselves, their cars, flags everywhere. All of a sudden we were one nation of Germans from Germany, Turkey, Russia, Italy, Poland… all celebrating this crazy event together. It was probably one of the best summers of my life. I turned 20 during that time and everything was just nice. Unfortunately we didn’t win the World Cup, we ended up being third but still it felt like we’ve had won. And since that time everybody loves the bigger competitions.
There are also bad things about having too many football enthusiasts around. During the last weeks/months there have been a few incidents with hooligan-like football fans making it impossible for those who just want to watch the match with friends and family to enjoy themselves. There’s loads of police around and you don’t really feel safe anymore. This is sad, it’s still just a game and there are far more important things than that, even in Germany.
So dear fellow football enthusiasts: Can we just enjoy the Euros peacefully, looking ridiculous when staring at huge screens where there’s a lot of green, a ball and a few lads running around in shorts? I promise there will be barbecues, I promise there will be beer, tears, joy and all of that but just be nice to one another. Deal?