The pundits are saying Group G is the World Cup’s “Group of Death”. Out of all the countries in the world, on June 22nd 2014, players from my homeland and my new-land are going to march out on the field. Little kids will be holding their hands gawking up at the heros adding a cuteness factor.
When the Portugal National Team plays I don’t miss a game. I even have favorite players; Nani, Neto, Alves and Ronaldo. After the intense game against Sweden, my now beloved Cristiano Ronaldo pulled off the hat trick, I swore I would stop my snarky remarks about his over groomed eyebrows. I have asked Santa to bring me a small photo of him in his underwear (hey, he is doing billboards almost naked, I can have a little picture). Bento is a good coach, however José Mourinho is special and Portuguese. He should be the coach! Ask me about Team U.S.A. and sadly, I got nothing.
When I lived in the States, the only sports I enjoyed were swimming, water ballet (synchronized swimming) and a bit of baseball. I still mourn synchronized swimming was pulled from the Olympics. Football, or American football as I call it now, I am not a big fan. TV time outs, what is that about? Stopping a game to sell things on television? Since moving to Portugal, real football is where the players run their butts off and work hard the entire 45 minutes before halftime, plus they aren’t hidden under layers of padding. The more “real” football I watch, American football just seems creepy to me.
For years people have been saying soccer is becoming a huge sport (not big, huge) in the States. Disagree; they don’t have the sponsors or the marketing. Importing David Beckham helped the Style and Entertainment divisions of stateside media corporations but was only a blip for real football in the U.S.A. Designers loved him, fans not enough to watch “soccer” on Sundays from their recliners while chugging beers.
You never know where life will take you, but June 22nd I am pretty certain you will find me in a café in front of a big screen TV. On the table will be a big jug of vinho verde, some garlicky olives and cheese, I will screaming madly for both teams. I am typically American, product of at least five poor immigrant families and mixed heritages. Got some German, Dutch, Polish, Italian and Irish all twisted up in my DNA, and that’s just what I know about.
Now, I am the immigrant and Portugal is giving me a whole new life, I will celebrate my past and my future, and hope desperately for a great game…and please keep your bananas at home.
Constance’s note: I am recovering from a total hip replacement (long story). Good news is the food in my Lagos hospital was amazing and I am on the road to recovery. In the meantime I will be posting some of my favorite stories from the last (almost) four years I have spent in Portugal until my brain restarts.