It’s Football, not Soccer

Updated: Aug 18, 2019

By Rachel Wee (19J10)

The Beautiful Game. A quick online search of these three words will garner results ranging from descriptions of football as a sport to names of football players. This may lead one who is unfamiliar with this sport to wonder, is football really that beautiful?

Indeed, it is.

One aspect of its beauty lies within the unpredictability it presents, not only for the spectators but even for the players themselves. Within a few seconds, crowds of disillusioned supporters could erupt in thunderous cheering and chanting, as a single goal could easily decide the fate of the team; whether they emerge as champions or get kicked out.

Just recently, the Champions League semi-finals perfectly encapsulated this aspect of unpredictability. Despite losing the first leg of the semi-finals, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur turned hampered hopes into reasons for celebration by staging incredible comebacks. Divock Origi and Georginio Wijnaldum of Liverpool each racked up a brace (2 goals in a match) to end the semi-finals in a 4-3 aggregate score, while Lucas Moura was Tottenham’s hero, scoring a hat trick (3 goals in a match) to qualify for the finals. Meanwhile, those at the receiving end of the comebacks had a bitter pill to swallow.

The match between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur on March 31, 2019 in the English Premier League

But as everyone now turn their attention towards the finals, it is safe to say we are up for one last tantalising 90 minutes of intense action, where the two English teams will battle it out for the highly coveted trophy. A spectacle like this usually draws in millions of viewers, and this time, it will be no exception.

So, which team will you be rooting for? Well, we managed to get some opinions from fans in RV…

As a supporter of Tottenham Hotspur, Yong Jing Jing from 18J16 hopes they will emerge as champion of this long, arduous, yet fulfilling competition. “I know they have been pretty trophy-less, as some would say, but I think the club has shown the world their ability to work miracles and the Champions League final is definitely a huge milestone for Pochettino and his team.” As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words, and this team's achievement in itself has surely silenced the haters, at least for now. Like many fans, Jing Jing was introduced to football through the World Cup, and you might be surprised to know just how many students and teachers share a passion for this sport!

Although not a fan of any of the finalist teams, Aung Nyi Htet from 19J07 shared that Barcelona is his favourite team. “I support Barcelona because I enjoy their plays and also because many of my favourite players have made their mark on football while in Barcelona.”

Lionel Messi after scoring a goal in the Champions League on May 1, 2019

With greats like Lionel Messi, Ronaldinho, Xavi, and Iniesta, the sheer quality of the players, past and present, is undisputed. Players come and go, but true fans have an inexplicable affinity to the football club they love, and those who have shaped the team's success and style of play will never be forgotten. For Barcelona, their style has evolved from the iconic tiki-taka focusing on ball possession, to a more direct approach focused on goal-scoring. Being a Barcelona fan myself, it is the awe and wonder after a screamer is scored that constantly reminds me why I support this club. But even deeper than that, I think I speak for most fans when I say, supporting a football club is like an identity that can never be taken away.

Admittedly, this passion for different teams has sown discord amongst fans in the past, and continues to present a possible ‘threat’, but the fans I spoke to had a much more optimistic outlook on the inevitable segregation between fans. To Mr Nazri, who is a Chelsea fan, football unites more than it divides. “At first glance, it might seem to divide people because of the different teams everyone supports. But in Singapore, and RV in particular, there is a lot of banter between fans, and so far it has all been good-natured.” In school, you may have caught an exchange or two between your friends or teachers about the recent football match they had watched, and it typically ends in smiles or laughter, which is living proof that football is little cause for division amongst fans, at least within RV.

As many of us would recall, just last year, we were lucky enough to witness one of the greatest sporting events, the World Cup. In RV, we even got the chance to watch the glorious victory of France in real time through the live screening of the final in our very own school hall. It was a first for RV, and was extremely well-received by students and teachers alike. When asked about his opinion on this initiative, Mr Nazri shared, “I think it’s a nice initiative, especially for the fans, because they know that the school is supportive of their interests, and new fans might actually see this as an opportunity to learn more and be part of a culture that is bigger than themselves.”

Celebrations during the live screening of the World Cup final between France and Croatia

However, pushing for this initiative and ensuring it was a success was no mean feat, as I found out from Ian Lee of 18J02. Being the one who originally conceived the idea of a live screening, Ian was faced with much uncertainty as to whether this was even possible, considering the odd hours of matches like these, which would constitute an overnight stay in school. “It’s something unlike what RV would do. In the past few years we have seen the number of overnights in school drop, so to push for something like that was quite tough. But, of course, I managed to convince Mrs Teo, with the help of the other councillors, especially the EXCO.”

So, where did his motivation to tread such uncharted waters stem from? “The World Cup gains the attraction of almost everyone, and there is usually a large influx of people following football. It is during this period of time when everyone gets exposed to football culture. I think it was a good opportunity to gather everyone to watch something together, something significant that only happens once every four years.” As a fan of Manchester United himself, it is clear that Ian was eager to share the joy of football with others, and he has no doubt succeeded.

Perhaps some of you often hear your family and friends talk about football, but have never watched a match for yourselves. Maybe this is the time to discover for yourself the beauty of this sport we call football. With so many fans worldwide, you know you will never walk alone on this journey. Just ask the Liverpool fans.

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