Today is the 14th June 2018. And you know what that means? It means that the 2018 FIFA World Cup kicks off today. It’s all going down in Russia - 32 Teams, 64 Matches and a new World Champion will be crowned.
So why am I so excited about the World Cup? To explain this I need to break this down into 3 points.
1. My Love For Football
To explain my love for football I need to backtrack to when I was much younger. As a 5 year old boy the first magazine I ever received was a Football magazine given to me by my grandfather. It was a German Football magazine called KICKER and it was a special edition covering the 1990 World Cup in Italy, which was won by Germany, but not a unified Germany - it was won by West Germany. They beat Argentina 1:0. Germany was awarded a penalty late in the game which was converted by Andreas Brehme in the 84th min.
The players of that West German team become my heroes and helped me connect to my German heritage. These players included Jürgen Klinsmann, Rudy Völler, Lothar Matthäus, Andreas Brehme and Oliver Kahn. I started playing football at school about a year or two later and I kept being inspired by these players.
A few years later, I got the opportunity to meet two of my all time football heros - Jürgen Klinsmann & Rudy Völler.
For some reason the German team visited South Africa on a tour and the German School in Cape Town, which was the school I attended for 12 years, managed to arrange for Rudy Völler to visit and train our school team. It was absolutely amazing. I remember playing a practice game in front of him and I managed to score 3 goals.
The German team also had a training session at the old Green Point Stadium, which was open to the public. I watched the training session and afterwards I managed to get Jurgen Klinsmann's autograph. Those are two experiences and memories that I will never forget.
I ended up playing Football for about 10 years at school and club level for Camps Bay FC in Cape Town. And for a good few years I chased the dream of becoming a professional footballer. The dream faded, but my love for football remained.
So, while currently in Berlin I had a look at the local newspaper and enjoyed reading an article highlighting the 4 German captains that lifted the World Cup in 1954, 1974, 1990 and 2014.
2. Enjoying The Football Festivities
I was fortunate enough to have been in Germany in 2006, when Germany hosted the World Cup. I did not attend any live games but I absolutely loved the vibe. Walking down the fan park, watching alongside thousands of others at public viewing venues. It was truly magical.
Then in 2010 I got to experience the World Cup in South Africa. I attended 6 live matches and it was an amazing experience being in Cape Town for this once in a lifetime event.
Even though the 2018 World Cup is taking place in Russia, I’m looking forward to the football fever that sweeps across Europe during the World Cup and the European Championship every two years. Each of these tournaments happen every 4 years, but because of the overlap one of them happens every 2 years.
3. National Pride & Unity - Bringing People Together
I love the way sport in general and in this case football brings people together in celebration.
Sure we all want our favourite team to win, but at the end of the day it for the love of the game and the game is what brings people from all walks of life together in celebration.
I think there is nothing wrong with a healthy dose of national pride. I’m very sad that South Africa did not manage to qualify for this year's tournament, but I’ll definitely be supporting Germany as they defend their title and then I’ll also be supporting all African teams and also Iceland. I really like Iceland. Their supports are the best.
So those are the 3 reasons why I’m super excited for the 2018 World Cup.
I do want to acknowledge that there are some negative aspects and controversial topics to keep in mind when it comes to the FIFA World cup and other major sporting events. These include human rights issues, corruption and violence. Football certainly has changed a lot since 1990. Back then it was more about fair play and sportsmanship, where these days for many it seems to be more about business, money and winning at all costs.
For this post I’m focusing on the positive aspects. Enjoying this global event, which brings people together to celebrate this beautiful game.
If you’ll be following along, I hope you enjoy all the action and all the best to your favourite team.
Thanks for reading, I’m Sean Twomey, wishing you an awesome day and I’ll chat to you soon.