When my older brother joined a football team in Kindergarten, I was jealous that he got to play and that I had to wait 2 more years to join an official team (1st grade was when the girls teams started in my hometown). Much of my time growing up was spent on a football field. Playing football taught me about teamwork and not quitting, gave me confidence, and introduced me to many friends. Iwould like to say that I also developed superstar skills, however I was okay - which I'm very happy with.
About 6 months after moving to German, I started playing football again. And again, the sport helped me in many ways... improving my German language skills, making friends, meeting very cute guys, and staying in shape.* Playing football also helped me establish myself as an equal amongst the guys in the "old boys network" at work, which still very much exists in Germany (football in Germany is the equivalent to golfing in the US).
Arriving in Germany, I was surprised to learn that very few German females play (or like) football or any team sport.** However, German females are a group which could benefit most from the lessons of football. In the German workplace, the stereotype of a female is someone who is delicate, emotional, and unable to make competent decisions. Few females in Germany advance to management because of this stereotype. Of the female managers, the majority (at my company) are ex-pats who present themselves as feminine, yet tough, and capable of competent decision making. They understand how to get along with men and women, and foster teamwork... All skills learned in football. Ironically, almost all grew up playing team sports and still participate in our company's annual football competition. These female managers are often very respected.
While growing up, there were many times I didn't appreciate football... times when my parents had to drag me kicking to practices. Now looking back, I'm very appreciative that my parents let/made me play football. All kids, especially little girls, should play football. This will better set them up for success later in life.
*Running for 2 hours x 2-3 times/week does wonders for the figure. And there is no chance to be lazy and miss a work-out as your teammates will force you to attend the next practice (or guilt trip you into it).
**The typical German female deeply dislikes football and other team sports. If their is a spoting event on TV, they will often criticize it (and those watching it) and then ask that the channel be changed. Many only watch a football match during the EuroCup or World Cup. Artsy things are promoted more amongst females in Germany.
Paul, a German octopus, has predicted the results of every World Cup match. While his forecasting techniques may be questionable, he has been 100% correct. And unfortunately, he correctly predicted that Spain (ES) would beat Germany (DE). Needless to say, the atmosphere in DE is now very somber. Gone are all the flags, loud football songs, and streets packed with cars honking their horns. Instead, all the Germans are sitting at the doner kebab stand to eat away their sorrows.*
Video: DE fans cheering at the match start (the song in the video is the most famous German football song which basically says "shoot a goal, shoot a goal...")
Video: ES fans cheering after the goal
Note: These videos were taken at the Heidelberg University Mensa public viewing.
*Doner kebab stands are the equivalent to 24/7 Mexican & Pizza places in the US. They provide the late night food in Germany (unfortunately, there are no shops selling vegetarian kebabs).
Bad decision to watch the DE v. AR football match at the Zollhofgarten (an outdoor public viewing site) instead of opting to watch it inside at a friends house. Having hot, humid morning weather, we were completely unprepared for the torrential downpour that happened midway through the 1st half. Within 2 min, all of us were soaking wet.
Note for future: when the weather forecast predicts an "80% chance of rain"... plan for rain (even if there are no clouds in the sky).
1. And the rain starts.
2. Security guards tried to save the TV (and the film crew filmed the viewers escaping the downpour).
3. Moved to an indoor location across the street.
4. DE fans "boo" Diego Maradona. Unfortunately, I don't have videos of this which happened a lot & loudly. (I like Maradona, he's a entertaining coach)
5. Celebration after DE won (please excuse the shakiness; this video was filmed while biking).
Being in Germany (DE) for any football championship is an amazing experience. The fans go all out supporting the DE team, which creates a great atmosphere. The after-match celebration (assuming DE wins) is wild with people lighting fireworks in the streets, cars flooding the streets with horns blaring, and people standing on street corners waving the DE flag. The noise is loud and the celebration goes on all night.
The public expressing of support and enthusiasm for DE's football team only started in 2006 when DE hosted the World Cup. Before 2006, all Germans were taught to restrain any pride for their nation. As one friend put it "When you cause 2 world wars, you learn not to enter into any more wars and not to sing praises outloud about your country." DE won the World Cup in 1954, 1974, and 1990. However, there were no public celebrations, cheering or flag waving after these wins. Typical Germans support their local canton (i.e. state) teams, instead of the national team.
To show the world that DE could "put on a good party" for the 2006 World Cup, the government set-up public viewing sites in all cities. At the public viewings, tourists and locals came together to watch the matches on huge screens. The govenment also offered deals, like cheap rail tickets to matches, to inspire Germans to get out, spend money, and support their team. The 2006 DE football team showcased 50% of the players from different ethnic backgrounds - a first for the DE national football team. This acceptance of diversity prompted many German immigrants to support the DE team. Additionally, many DE teachers used the World Cup to teach (ex: teaching foreign language by using football words).
The 2008 EuroCup was great. The 2010 WorldCup has also been amazing... Germans are still out in full force supporting their team. This evening, I'll watch the DE v. ES match at a public viewing and will be rooting for DE!
(Video footage shows the round-about in HD center after the DE v. AR match; normally there is no traffic here)