Remember that day, all those years ago, when you watched a game for the first time? That magical moment, when the ball flew past the goalposts and wild celebrations ensued. The euphoria that engulfed the scorer and his teammates; the abject disappointment, palpable in the air, of the opposition. And it doesn’t matter whether it was a game which was being aired live on television, with thousands of spectators in the stadium and millions watching across the world, or it was just a few lads kicking a ball around at the local park – from that moment you were hooked.
Perhaps, at that time, you felt that this was not the game for you. But you felt the euphoria, the passion that fuelled the players, which made you curious when you heard about the next game. And you watched it. And then, you knew, all of a sudden, that you were in love.
That is the beauty of the game. You can feel the joy radiating through yourself when you see someone score. You empathize with the losing team, put yourself in their shoes as you see the droop in their shoulder. You feel the isolation of the goalkeeper from the winning team, forever destined to celebrate alone, at least while on the pitch.
Football is a game that transforms, a game where, for 90 minutes, you forget the rest of the world. It is a game where you wear your heart on your sleeve, a game which can make grown men unashamedly weep. All the cultural, political, religious, racial and all the other differences that man has created in order to distinguish himself from the other, fall away the moment two people start kicking a ball.