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.


  • Hala, dont worry, Iraq will score a GOAL. A biggest one. I believe it will one day( sooner rather then later) be free, safe and democratic.

    But to tell you the truth World Cup is a frustrating experience for me. I cheered up Polish team (we lost) and Iran (they lost, too). I cheered up for Iran because they are representing people of Iran and not the government of Iran. And I love iranian jokes.

    Now I just watch the matches though I cheer a little for England, because I've been to UK and met so many interesting people and (most importantly) Canadian team did not even qualified for the Cup .;-((

    Oh well, next time there would be a Polish team, a Canadian team and the Iraqi team in the World Cup.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:07 am  

  • Glad you had fun, Hala :)

    By Blogger programmer craig, at 5:13 am  

  • marhaba Hala,
    well inshalla in 2010 Iraq will have a team in the world cup...we really can make it that far...we just need the opportunity...and hopefully I will get to travel to europe and cheer for the Iraqi team live!!!

    By Blogger ~Nancy~, at 5:43 pm  

  • Its delightful to see that people of different cultures take such pride in their respective nations of birth or ancestry. Here in the US this sort of manifestation is even on a grander scale given the make-up of the US population.

    I personally have no quarrel with such emotional exhibitions as along as everyone's ultimate loyalty is toward their adoptive nations.

    As for Nancy's message, the next WC is scheduled to take place in South Africa.

    By Blogger Antar, at 1:52 pm  

  • Thank you all for your comments, and I hope Iraq will make it and join the rest of the world in all aspects.

    Thank you Nancy for dropping by, and if you ever think of coming over during a football event or not I will be delighted to have you.

    So, antar who will you back if the match is Iraq vs USA?

    By Blogger hala_s, at 7:13 pm  

  • I suppose I had this coming! (walla 3arjteeni) Is there such a thing as a neutral side in such a complicated scenario!

    I for one would love to see the US and Iraqi sides competing in sporting events. Such gatherings would definitely begin to humanize each others side. As we all know, wars in general have the terrible tendency to demonize opposing sides.

    The end result will hopefully begin the healing process and ultimately lead to and foster better relations among the people of the two nations.

    By Blogger Antar, at 9:12 pm  

  • Hala,

    I used to play soccer back in time when i was a little kid in Iraq. we used to have boyz vs.girls lol

    I dunno why though, i did not have passionate to any team this year, and so I could not do the jumping, and all the heart beating stuff.

    I dunno, I generaly watched the game with group of friends, otherwise i would not bother watching it on my own. Is it me growing older or not, I am not quite sure.

    And yes the Brits are going all crazy, just yesterday in the news, England fans were fighting with the portugese, honestly it is tasteless like that. keep it all sports, and yes, i did include some politics when evaluating teams, but then again that should not be the case. It is all Europeans teams nows.

    and take care for now...and i like ur blog :)

    By Blogger Shams, at 8:29 pm  

  • Within 10 years Iraq can be among the world leaders in many areas ...
    science/engineering/medicine ...

    The oil wealth combined with
    a strong agriculture ... combined
    with the potential for huge revenues from tourism should
    lead to a prosperous nation ...
    which can then devote resources
    to a national soccer and sports
    ... all it takes is for
    the Shia factions to moderate
    and the former regime elements
    still fighting to acknowledge
    the past brutality of Saddam and
    accept a government where authority
    is shared ....Then US forces
    can go home and we Americans
    can re-build our cities and
    devote more money to soccer ...
    so we can beat the pants off of
    those from Ghana !!! (Ha Ha)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:21 am  

  • Hi gilgamish
    Welcome to my blog and thank you for your nice words.
    You have a very nice blog yourself.
    Now I am backing Portugal the poorest of all!

    Thank you for commenting.
    I hope Iraq will make it in less than 10years.
    I also hope Ghana will win the next world cup!

    By Blogger hala_s, at 8:43 am  

  • I absolutely loved Ghana's game against the Czech Republic. Yesterday's semi-final was one of a kind; I was 6 when Roberto Baggio blasted that penalty over the bar and Italy lost the final to Brazil in 1994 - so seeing Italy win so empphatically was truly amazing.

    What I love about Iraqis and football is how they're innately in love with the sport. I remember this documentary on Channel 4, this Najafi guy called Abu Haider said "Yes Yes. Riyal Medreed o Manchestar Yonayit!"

    I do hope the overall living standards in Iraq improve; employment, security, education, etc. We all hope they improve.

    Many thanks.

    By Blogger Little Penguin, at 4:36 pm  

  • Anyway Iraq just won the Asian Championships... so there is hope of them making the FIFA World Cup 2010. And for sure the death rate there will drop during that month as they'll be getting too caught up watching their team.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:19 am  

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