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As Long as We Remember...

July 14, 2010

A Reason to Cheer Its Over

Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia – The World Cup united everyone here in Kuching. Australians, Germans, Dutch, Malaysians, English, Chinese and many others knew every player, the weaknesses and strengths of each country’s team and can replay every game down to the nano-second. A hearty camaraderie replaced any nationalistic animosities.


The ones left out of the discussions were the Americans. We do not follow football – a.k.a. soccer – on a world-wide basis. In America, the greatest fans are the “Soccer Moms,” who take their children to play in local league games and have evolved into a political force. They are responsible for the sale of mini-vans as they transport teams and equipment from game to game.


I was heartily congratulated each time the USA won as if I had played personally and scored the winning goal. Truth be told, I only watched half of one game, although I pretended to have enjoyed the entire game immensely.


First they run up and down the field kicking a ball. They pass it back and forth among each other when they get close to the goal. Then, they kick it over or around the goal but very, very rarely into the net which is what counts.


Missing are the cheerleaders. No pom-poms, no splits or other suggestive movements.


The blimps were also not there giving a panoramic view of the play. Just people running back and forth – kick, miss, back and forth, kick, miss, and so on. And, by some fluke of blind luck, the ball accidentally gets kicked into the net. But only by accident.


One must watch the game very intensely as there are no instant replays. If you miss a close call then you have to wait until the end of the game. The bladder must be strong because there is no half time or television commercial breaks.


If you do something wrong while playing the game, you get a yellow card. If you do something very, very wrong, you get a red card. I don’t know what happens with these cards.


The World Cup ended with Spain as the victor, in double overtime. I supported the Netherlands. I didn’t know anything about the Dutch team except their colors were orange. I just happen to like windmills, tulips, canals and, in my hippie days, Amsterdam pot. The Dutch people who visit here are very, very friendly and smile a lot. I figured those were good enough reasons. Especially my fond memories of the Amsterdam pot and a lady.


The big side show of the world cup was Paul the Octopus. Somehow this sucker was able to predict the winner of every playoff game. If this bulbous creature had missed a prediction in this part of the world, he would have ended up fried with dried chilies, onions, lemon grass, and turmeric and served over rice.


Don’t tell anyone, but I didn’t watch the final game. I went to bed. I woke at my usual time of 5 A.M. (I am a morning person) and was surprised to see the game was still on.


The announcers were waiting for the clock to finish clicking as the score was 1-0 Spain.


I was a bit disappointed that the Netherlands lost, but I didn’t pay much attention to the whole affair. I am glad it’s over so I don’t have to talk about it and show my complete ignorance of the world’s most popular sport.

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