Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Guest Blog Entry by Joan:

With the onset of the 2006 FIFA World Cup now just a few days away, I find my mind wandering to World Cups of the past. I don’t remember scores, but I remember every team who has ever beaten my beloved Italia, especially those who stole our glory in the final stages of the tournaments. But my memories extend well beyond the game itself – to good friends and good times, all in the name of soccer.

I can easily and clearly remember how my love for soccer began. It was 1990, and I was heading to Italy with my family for a trip to the motherland, completely unaware that Italy was the host for the World Cup that summer. I recall the check-in agent at the airport counter excitedly asking us if we were heading to Italy to watch soccer. I found it a rather unusual question, but didn’t give it a second thought. Being 14 at the time, soccer was not the first thing on my teenage mind.

I can still vividly recall the antics that awaited us upon our arrival. Driving with my relatives from the Leonardo Da Vinci International Airport, a lunatic in a red, white, and green wig nearly jumped out of his car to scream hysterically about victory and Italia. I remember being scared, while my Italian relatives laughed.

Later that first night in Italy, we went for wood-burning oven pizza, now a traditional event for my first night in Italy. It was hard to get a seat, and even harder to get service, let alone the delicious pizza Italy is famous for. Ours arrived cold and bland, as everyone in the restaurant, including the chef, was too busy intensely watching the Italy versus Uruguay game to bother with their jobs. My mother, completely disinterested in soccer, was thoroughly disgusted. By the end of that first night, I had ascertained that this trip was going to be a very memorable one. Even to this day, the memories of that trip easily flood my mind.

Thus began my interest in soccer, and my love of the Italian Azzurri, particularly the amazing Paolo Maldini. This year will be the first World Cup without Maldini, who has now retired from the national team, but who continues to play for AC Milan. I am trying to come to terms with it.

Subsequent World Cups, while not quite as memorable as Italia ’90, carry plenty of memories of their own. Italian flags hanging from UBC dorm rooms; my dad painting the house during a match but running inside for the score every time he heard me yell; my friend Nancy imitating a World Cup commercial saying “Italia, Viva Italia” and her father who cheered for Nigeria even when they were playing against Italy; celebrating with fellow Italia fans spilling out from Café Roma onto Commercial Drive in Vancouver; Nina smugly rubbing in Italy’s 2002 defeat to Korea; and not speaking with my friend Mario (an avid Portugal & Brazil fan) for the entire month of the 2002 World Cup. I look forward to adding new World Cup memories to the list this year, and to sharing the game I love with the man I love…but only if Andrew will cheer for Italy.


Susan G. said...

Joan,I sense a fellow fanatic, and while your passion is for the Italian soccer team, mine is for the Acadia Axemen - every sport they play! I love the energy of a championship game.
Let us know if you get Andrew to cheer for Italy.

6:47 PM, June 06, 2006  
Nina said...

This year, I hope to make that phone call once again to haunt you about the Italy's loss to Korea :) Muhahahahahaha (that's my evil laugh)

11:39 AM, June 09, 2006  

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