A lot of people in England have a very strong obsession with football. You might even say they are fanatics! When I was growing up, everyone would rush out to the playground during the break times, desperate to play a game of football.
Whenever there is a big match, all the flags and crests for local football teams are hung outside every window, or even spread proudly on T-shirts or scarves. There is an atmosphere of excitement in the air. Groups of young men crowd into dark, packed bars, peering at tiny television screens in the corners. Of course, they are covered head to toe in the colours of their team, as a way of showing their allegiance. They shout and scream in frustration when their team loses a goal, or with joy when there is a moment of success.
You do not have to be a fan of football to get caught up in the excitement. As far as victories are concerned, England can only boast of one big moment, a date everyone is familiar with: 1966. The World Cup victory is in the hearts and minds of all English football fans, the moment that, for them, changed history forever. Now, whenever England is playing a big match, red and white adorns every inch of every bar, a symbol of hope: the English flag.
Football has never been something I have been particularly interested in. For years, I have had to feign excitement, and pick a team or risk ridicule. You cannot say you don't like or do not follow football in England, as often this would lead to a long dialogue in which someone would begin telling you why you should support their team. Growing up in north London, I quickly learned everyone around me supported Arsenal, and so I blindly did the same, for fear of having the same conversation more than fifty times.
Often, I feel annoyed when everyone around me is brimming with excitement over two groups of people kicking a ball in a field. However, I understand the culture, and I enjoy the excitement. When I was younger and football was inescapable in physical education lessons or the playground, I would always pick the same position to play in a football match: goal defence. I feel similarly about it now. While I may not ultimately desire to play the sport or take part in supporting the teams, I will nevertheless defend people's obsession with the sport. It is their history and obsession.
Do you like football?