Sunday, 22 July 2018

The Summer Isaac Fell in Love

Twenty eighteen is a summer that we will remember for a very long time. For the weeks of endlessly beautiful sunshine. For the Saturday mornings sipping coffee in the beer garden of our favourite café that sits by the riverbank. For the lunchtime picnics in our own patch of green turned brown by the lack of rainfall. But most importantly, for the season that Isaac fell passionately in love with football that constantly played and replayed in our living room and brought to life in our own tiny football field in the garden.

He can recognise the flags of the countries that took part in the World Cup, remembers the full-time scores of every game he has watched and cried every time a favourite team made an untimely exit. Foreign names of football heroes rolled off his tongue as though he was talking about a friend in class. One time he declared that he wished he was named Benjamin, later on we realised that he was talking about the French player named Benjamin Pavard. He commentated on games, mastered the tricks of scoring a penalty and tackled head on without fear. In school, he played the game with older children, chasing after the ball as though his life depended on it and scoring free kicks that earned him high fives and popularity award.

But love for football runs deep in his blood. His forefathers have been avid supporters of our local team, the same one near the bottom of our road, both in their glory days and mediocre years that it is still stuck into until now. Such passion for the sport is one I could not embrace especially when I had to witness family members' agony over the games that could have been, the constant replay of key moments that could have made a difference and the pain in the gut for the eventual losses that came more than the glorious victories. It is a fate I would have wanted him to avoid, but I had been told that football simply chooses you. It snatches you without warning and does not ask permission to chain you. It makes your heart pound hard with excitement and anticipation for every game that is yet to come but it also gives you so much heartache and pain from broken expectations. And yet you do not turn your back and stop hoping that things will get better again. Football is a lot like love.

So my little boy, barely five years old, has chosen the same path as his father's. After the World Cup ended, he asked, "Are we back to Sheffield Wednesday now?". Yes we are, my lad, at least once the season starts. Then it will be back to Saturday afternoons discerning the crowd chants from our garden, gripping the radio for the full time results and listening for the match-end reviews at the end of each game. Occasionally, they would go to the stadium to join the more than 20,000 supporters who had nothing better to do while I could have an afternoon for myself. Perhaps, I can look forward to the new season after all.

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