Thursday, February 28, 2008

Football fever in Freiburg

I just ticked off one of the things in my mental to-do list here in Germany: watch live football.

Tickets were already difficult to get by even a few days before the Germany versus China women's football game. After a few exchange of emails with a classmate, she assured me that I'll get to see the match.

Our group met at Bertoldsbrunnen, the heart of the city where all trams converge. More than one hour before the game started, people already started to trickle in and fill in the trams leading to the stadium. As soon as our international group of 12 (Brazil, Czech Republic, Spain, Canada, Germany, Taiwan, Australia, USA and of course, the Philippines) was complete, the game started- not the football game, but the tussle for a place in the tram. Three trams passed by before the first four in our group got a ride. The trip was a breeze though as it was an 'express tram' that went all the way to the tram station near the stadium. Anyway, it would be of no use stopping by the stations in between because there was not a single place empty.
We waited at least 30 more minutes at our tram stop to complete our little troop. People were draped in German flags and adorned with funny hats, while other had their faces painted also with streaks of black, red and gold. No doubt these are the colors of the day. Droves of Germany fans and a speck of Chinese supporters spilled out of the trams which arrived after every few minutes. Perhaps half of the tram fleet of Freiburg serviced the route to the stadium this afternoon.
Everyone finally arrived, and we almost jogged to the stadium. We didn't have to exert any orienteering effort to look for the venue of the game. All roads of this part of the city led to the Badenova Stadium. We could already here resonating shouts right before we turned to the corner near the stadium. The national anthem of Germany was sung as we approached the colossal structure. We got in time for the start of the match and found a decent place shortly to stand and watch the match.

Football in Freiburg: green and mean
I know Germans are crazy about football, but I didn't expect the women's team to get as much outpouring support like the men's team. In the Philippines were basketball is considered a religion, only men's basketball matters. I don't even know if we have a women cou Philippine team. But then again the women's national team of Germany is the defending world champion.

...versus Germany
The first half of the game was nothing special and remained tied at 0-0. Observing the crowd for this first-time live football spectator was an alternative delight. We were seated, or should I say, standing up at the bleachers at one end of the stadium near a group of young girls. They had a uniform sports jacket that identified them as a football club from Loerrach, a town near Freiburg. Like the rest of the crowd from our side of the bleachers, they would cheer along to the drumbeats right across the other end of the stadium. Typical paraphernalia that showed allegiance to one's supported team included flags in all forms and surface. The three colors of the German flag that were imprinted on scarves, hats, and balloons in the form of a hand were a common sight. There were real flags, of course, that were waved in in every attempt to make a goal.

Mommy I blew up my hand.

Amid the chants, cheers, and jeers of the two opposing fans, at least one thing unites them: the human wave. It's one type of wave that swept everyone- with glee and anticipation- and left no casualty. It rippled around the stadium several times, sometimes not making a full round, but often reaching the end (our side) as the starting point prepares for another one. The big screen flashed that the stadium housed 18,000 spectators that afternoon, who surely, at one point or another, looked on the left side to prepare for the proper timing, waited in excitement, and raised their hands as the wave engulfed them.

The second half though is a different story. Warmed up after the first half of the game, the final stretch of the second half was fruitful for Germany. There was an uproar after every goal followed by singing, dancing, and flag-waving. It could have been an independence day celebration...

After a few more jostling, kicking, and at times falling, Germany decisively ended the game with a final score of...


Noeh R. Vios said...

You beat me there. I stayed four years in Europe but never got round to watching any live football. I envy you.

jadz said...

I didn't expect to watch football this soon I was thinking of watching a match some time in spring or summer when the weather is more tolerable. The match being between women's national teams made the experience all the more special!

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