Memories of a female football fan [Archives:2005/849/Community]

June 9 2005

By lamya
[email protected]

“Goaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaal!” Dad and I yelled after the first Iraqi goal in the Australian nets. Shouting made dad cough, he looked very tired, nevertheless; the happiness for the goal was greater than his pain. He gave me a large grin as I sat down beside him on the hospital bed.

We looked at the far corner where the little black-and-white TV was, and even thought the transmission was unclear with a bad signal, dad and I- like many others- were very proud of the Iraqi football team that was strong enough to overcome their country's crisis and give the miserable Iraqi people a reason to smile by playing beautiful football.

It would be typical of me to say that dad and I were never close. I didn't read his writings and never cared about his political activities. When I came across one of his poems while flipping through some magazines I simply neglected it.

One can pretty much say that the relationship between us was somewhat “formal” ever since I was a kid until last year.

Being over-occupied with his job, writings and the never lasting struggle for human rights, the only free time dad had was when he watches the news, which I didn't enjoy watching. Therefore, the only time I spent with him was when we'd sometimes watch a movie after dinner.

Add to that the fact that dad wasn't a typical Arabic father in an all-male community who would interrogate his daughters about their every little action. He gave me unlimited freedom and never asked me where I was going or who I was seeing. And that's why the shortest conversations between a father and a daughter were those of me and dad's.

But one day, a year ago from now, dad came into the living room while I was all hype watching the first la liga match.

It was when Al-Jazeera Sport first started transmission. I was happy as can be to finally be able to watch la liga.

“I had no idea you're a football fan Lamya!” he said with a big puzzled smile.

Ever since, dad and I watched every match together and cheered the neighborhood's brains out!

We talked about football all the time, and once he gets home he'd ask me: “what's on JCCS tonight?”

Every Saturday and Sunday night- although it's not weekend here- we'd get ready to watch la liga matches and dad would ever skip the night news. We'd sit to watch and dad would shout the unfamiliar names of Spanish players: ” Baraja!! Selgado!!” and he'd still be yelling the same names the next morning!

There was a furious discussion after every match. Of course we were different in every way. Dad was a big fan of the galacticos while I am a Valencianesta. We'd talk for long hours about the mistake that player made, the tackle the referee didn't count and what should a certain manager do to improve the performance. We talked as if we were two expert football analysts!

Many times I'd jump for joy wearing my orange jersey when they royal nets shake. Many times dad would stand up laughing and yelling when his favorite player scores: “Yeaaaaaaaaah Carlos!”

Football got dad and me closer. A beautiful friendship formed even after my boys were crowned champs and dad's royals settle for fourth last season.

Footy opened the door that's been locked between us, and we'd share everything until I ended up watching the night news.

A couple of hours after the Iraqi win in Athens, dad was gone. Not to work or write a poem. And I didn't realize that he wouldn't come home to ask me about the scores of the matches ever again.

I sat alone watching Valencia's first match in la liga's new season. My boys were winning but I was just sitting there, numb in the jersey he paid for, unable to cheer and yell like I used to. Like la liga isn't the same, like winning is not worth it without dad's yelling: ” Goal Baraja! Goal!”

I can't but imagine how dad would make fun of me if he sees how lame my boys have been playing lately. He'd be so happy with Real Madrid second in the table and say: ” Real Madrid= Real Team= Real Stars”.

I never thought I'd miss the words of mockery from a Madrid fan.

For one year I enjoyed being dad's best buddy. To who do I owe my thanks? Al-Jazeera Sport? Spanish Football Federation? Valencia? Even Real Madrid? I thank them all, for if it wasn't for them, I wouldn't have spent dad's last hours watching Olympic football with him and I wouldn't have seen his last smile.

“Dada.. look!” and I pointed at a bottle of Spanish olive oil at the super market. Dad looked at it closely and said loudly: “Selgado!!” the burst of laughter made people look at us as if we were lunatics..but we didn't care and laughed our guts out hysterically!