I have never been a huge fan of “the beautiful game,” and I don’t pay all that much attention to sports in general, but for some reason, this time around, I’ve gotten caught up in the World Cup. Last night, in fact, I set my alarm and got up at 3:30AM to watch the match between the United States and Ghana. If you’ve been keeping track, you know that Ghana kicked (pun intended) the U.S. out of the tournament for the second time.
But all is not lost. Here, chez Kamata, we still have next Saturday’s game between Japan and Paraguay to look forward to. And my son, aware of his German roots, is looking forward to the match between Germany and England. Just as we are supposedly connected to everyone else in the world by seven degrees or less, we seem to be connected to the other countries in the World Cup by only one or two degrees. I have a couple of friends who live in the host country, South Africa, and friends in France, where I studied for several months. I was bound for Cameroon before I decided to come to Japan instead. And here in Japan, I have Australian and Korean friends, which makes me want to root for those teams when they’re on the pitch. My son, I have discovered, is pan-Asian. He has been cheering for both Koreas and Japan, no matter the opponents.
I like feeling part of something bigger, something universal. I like how the World Cup draws the attention and enthusiasm of people all over the world, how it somehow connects us. And I’m even starting to enjoy soccer, er, football, as a spectator sport.
Tokushima is home to Vortis, a Japan League team. We’ve never quite gotten around to going to a game, in spite of our proximity, but now I’m thinking of how we can paint our faces and keep this sense of global community going on a local level.