madly in love with Iraq



The football fever hit the British isle two weeks ago; people went mad, sticking king George's flags all over; on cars, pubs, cafes and houses; some even shaved their heads into the flag pattern, tatooed it on their bodies or else had it painted on their faces.
Shops are filled with black&white ball shaped chocolates, coke bottles, lollypops you name it.
Wides screen television prices soared, tracksuits, t-shirts, trainers cost a small fortune if it is related to this event, let alone the promotions and prizes we are currently bombarded with on every single print in the country.

At the moment there is no escape we are all caught in this circle. You feel the tension vibes wherever you go. From earlier experiences there is nothing called “Be a sport” or “it’s only a game” people take this matter very seriously.

I have to admit that I love this feeling of closure, when suddenly everyone has one thing in mind and everything else can be dealt with later. The idea of looking at people and knowing exactly what they are thinking of somehow makes me happy.

In this rainbow society as they say in the UK, people’s loyalty and enthusiasm took a turn and all went back to their roots.
Jayne a colleague from Ghana came to work last week in her traditional dress after winning the match over the USA. And in spite of being in here since she was a toddler she is backing her country of origin all the way. The British Caribbean’s are no less eager and they spread their flags and streamed the streets with their music and traditional dancing.

What about me? Generally I am too much into sport and apart from cricket; I follow everything from boxing to tennis to football.
Since Iraq is not part of this competition, I thought it would be normal to back England. As the matches progressed I was puzzled to find myself backing the weak and vulnerable, watching those Africans struggling to score, I had flash backs of them in famine, civil wars and in camps. From the two Arab teams Tunisia had my support, and I surprised myself by becoming too involved emotionally jumping in front of the TV, shouting and swearing and later feeling sad, cursing our bad luck;
I even spoke to God and begged him to let Arabs win in something, anything but……

Once upon a time we used to brace the strong and able, and trust that being in their team will offer us protection and somehow elevate us to the same level.

The days when people used to cheer cowboys on movies against red Indians have long gone.

The strong now is frightening and heartless.
Being able means you are right and others have to bow.
The word strong became associated with injustice, exploitation and double standards.

I hate to mix sports with politics, but sometimes I feel cornered and have no mean to express my anger or win over the mighty, so a small bend in their pride and let it be a football match will do!

When I went to my usual class in the gym last Thursday, I found our trainer had turned the hall into a football pitch. Two small goals and we were split into four teams of three each. The winner will continue to play the others. I went with Ali Hassan the only Iraqi and one other girl.
My last memory of playing football was when I was six years old. Ali and I were the strikers and we left the other girl guarding the goal.
We lost the first round, but after 15 minutes we went back with vengeance, we played for the next 45minutes none stop and scored like there is no tomorrow, I was gasping for air when we finally finished, while Ali Hassan was shouting the Iraqi team has won the Iraqi team won!

Yesterday I watched England against Ecuador and backed England for the first time since the tournament started; I think for two reasons, first a lot of my frustration was out after Thursday’s match! Second, I love those people, I live among them, and there is no way I can deny that.
But deep down inside I am still waiting for Iraqis to score a big GOAL.