Sunday, June 11, 2006

The beautiful game

It truly is. It may look like a barbaric past-time (the players and fans alike) to some, but there's something exquisitely spiritual about fooball.

I know the same can be said for rugby - exemplified by the last move of the game, one team needing a try to win with the flyhalf offloading to a center who breaks his tackle and dives down under the poles as the siren blows. Or cricket when, with one ball left, the last man plays a classic cover drive over mid-off to secure victory in an ODI or a stoic hundred from a part-time batsman to force a draw in appalling conditions in a 5-day test match against a much stronger side.

But in no other sport can the fate of a nation's economy, unity and overall well-being come down to one simple kick, just 12-yards, between two poles and under a bar, with one man standing between two such utter extremes: hero or villain of a nation. In no other sport can two tiny islands whose national football team are made up of a number of journeymen, a few professionals and an unified passion for their country, take on the might of a years-old footballing nation and not only survive to tell the tale but boast about it.

In no other sport can a team of dreadlocked Caribbeans, 30 spots below their opposition in the world rankings, hold-out for 90 minutes, 45 of which being played with one less man on the field, to force a 0-0 draw against perennial World Cup achievers Sweden. Trinidad and Tobago must have drawn inspiration from the classic underdog comedy Cool Runnings prior to the match, especially substitute goalkeeper Shaka Hislop, whose acrobatic heroics made sure that last night's match will be talked about for many years over a glass of dark rum or coconut cocktail on watching the sunset on the two tiny islands. This is what the World Cup is all about. This is the beautiful game.

1 comment:

mullert said...

It is a beautiful game, I cant think of anything I'd rather do for a living, except maybe being a beer taster or getting paid to do nothing. It can be a cruel game too though, take for example todays match between Japan and Australia. The samurai mofo's went ahead with a fluke goal and managed to hold out till the dying minutes when they were destroyed by a sharper aussie team. Very sad. My commiserations go out to them and to to Djibril Cisse, who not much more than a year later managed to snap his other leg in half two days before the world cup. It doesn't get much more cruel than that.