I couldn’t be prouder to introduce our newest writer to the Wayniac Nation family. She comes to us from her amazing travel blog The Adventures of Amelia in which, through photos and memoirs, she recollects her amazing journeys around the world. We have wanted to collaborate for some time, so what better time than the World Cup. Amelia has been to more than a dozen of this year’s World Cup qualifiers, so she looks to bring you worldly insights as she delves into the world of futbol and Americana.
Well guys, it’s finally upon us. We’re five days into the greatest sporting event in the world, and just hours away from the highly anticipated debut from the US Mens’ National Team. We’ve made it another four, unbearably long years to hear that sweet sound of vuvuzelas (just kidding, they won’t be there this time), Ian Darke’s dulcet announcing tones, and various rhythmic chants sung in languages we can’t even understand. Despite the 32 nationalities represented, we don’t need to be fluent in multiple languages to comprehend this magnificent event. The sport itself is communication enough. It’s called fútbol and it’s the most International language of them all. For me, it’s also the first romance language. From gruesome, mid-air head collisions, to footwork that would blow even David Copperfield’s mind, this sport is one of the finest worldwide. Brilliantly orchestrated dives from the likes of Balotelli and Dragba make for a spectacular performance for all you drama-types out there, while Cristiano Ronaldo’s perfectly sculpted abs are capable of turning even the girliest of girls into fans of ESPN this summer. And by the way, ladies, have you seen the Spanish team roster this year? Come. ON. And gentlemen, if the intense head-to-head play wasn’t enough for you, perhaps Adriana Lima’s Kia ads will do the trick. What doesn’t this event bring to the table? The 2014 World Cup is here, and it has something for everyone — even Americans.
Being the daughter of a British soccer hooligan, my opinions regarding this sport are biased. As I’m sure you’ve gathered that by now, I grew up playing soccer on a highly competitive level, traveling around the state of Georgia almost every weekend in my red and yellow Lightning attire — hair ribbons included. It is because of my deep-rooted history with the sport that I constantly find myself defending it. Every four years I anxiously wait, ammunition in-hand, as the American soccer haters crawl out of the woodwork and into my ears. With the growth of social media, they now pollute my newsfeeds and blogosphere with their illogical rubbish. The number one complaint, by far, is boredom. Say what? I almost always find that these are the same people who love America’s favorite pastime: baseball. Oh, the irony. These people watch a seven-game finale, hoping through all nine innings that their beloved pitcher throws a no-hitter. As in, no hits. At all. For nine innings. Sure, it’s a massive accomplishment and certainly comes with a lifetime of bragging rights, however, you know what else it is? Boring. I’d rather watch paint dry. The second gripe I constantly hear is that “soccer players are bunch of sissies.” I can’t deny that soccer players over-dramatize a dive, then roll around on the ground like someone just ripped off their leg, and threw salt in the wound. But they also play incredibly hard for 90 minutes, without any timeouts (I’m lookin’ at you football and basketball), often clocking somewhere around 7 miles worth of running per game. It is every bit a full-contact sport and unlike American Football, there aren’t any pads to cushion the blows. You want to talk about sissies? Just last week, the world watched as THE KING LeBron James was escorted off the court in game one of the NBA finals for — wait for it — cramps. Apparently, he blamed it on lack of air conditioning in the arena (Insert my most obnoxious laugh here). Just for kicks, the temperature during the England vs. Italy game on Saturday evening was a balmy 86 degrees, with humidity hitting an almost unbearable 80 percent. Drink your juice (or Gatorade), LeBron.
In addition to the fact that I was genetically predisposed to this glorious sport, this particular World Cup presents a whole new playing field — pun intended. You see, since the 2010 tournament, I started traveling internationally. I’ve now been to 16 countries —many of them for extended periods of time. My days of watching the World Cup as solely an American fan might just be over, and I’m quite alright with that. My three and a half-month stint on the inviting little island of Utila, tells me to pour up a Salva Vida and root like hell for my first home abroad in Honduras. An adventurous six weeks Colombia has me Googling the cost of those bright yellow jerseys and fighting the urge to book a one-way ticket to Bogota. Then there’s all the friends I’ve made along the way. I’ve never met an Aussie or a Dutch I didn’t like, and they now make up a chunk of my friend-base. Thanks to spending the better part of a year with one of my favorite Dutch friends, Maartje, “ik kan een beetje nederlands praten!” Look it up. I’ve also convinced myself I’m Australian and actually just applied for my working-holiday visa for the Land Down Unda today. How’s that for timing? In addition to all of this, and complicating things further is the fact that I became a British citizen just a few months ago. Thanks to my Father, I was able to obtain my UK passport and will now root for The Three Lions, obnoxiously chanting “Come on England!” for the rest of my life.
So, this game really is in my blood. Now that I’ve seen the grip it has on so many countries around the world, I’m doomed. I feel part of everywhere and my definition of “home” certainly isn’t the same as it was four years ago. It’s a complicated, yet gorgeous feeling, that will affect who I root for every four years, from here on out. While pieces of my heart might be scattered on the beaches of Latin America and in my Father’s hometown of Warrington, England, you better believe I root for the place I called home first, The US of A. With or without Landon Donovan, this is my team. This is OUR team. Today, I can be found in a neighborhood bar in South Florida, sporting every piece of red, white and blue I can gather, screaming “U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!” from the top of my lungs. I suggest you do the same.
Don’t fight it — get involved! You might just find that you like this sport a little more than you thought. See what 3.2 billion people are raving about around the world. Half of the world’s population can’t possibly be tuning into something so “boring.”