Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The small world of sport

Representin' on Tabyana Beach, Roatan Island - Honduras

Yes, I'm back from my holiday...I'm sorry to say that means I'm back to posting again!

Not being much of a beach guy -- really, no one wants their holiday ruined by the sight of my fat, pasty ass rumbling up the beach --it wasn't long after this shot was taken for me to make the 500m hike inland to a clich├ęd "authentic" Honduran restaurant that just happened to be licensed. I swear I wasn't looking for beer. It just found me. Barena. $2 U.S. a bottle. Poured by a pretty, friendly angel who didn't speak a lick of English but knew enough to have a cold one in front of me seconds before I finished the last sip of my previous indulgence.

Not long after sitting down at the bar I was joined by my driver. Although he was likely there to protect his fare -- you don't pay 'till they drop you off at the end of the day. How novel -- he wasn't obvious about it. Instead, he tried to make small talk.

Awkward, awkward small talk that looked like it was about to fade away until he saw the shirt.

At first looking puzzled, then intrigued, he pointed and said one simple word -- "soccer." Actually, it was more like "soccer?" such was his confusion that any tourist dropped off on his island could possibly be wearing a jersey of that kind of football.

It was one of those moments that Carlsberg commercials are made of. Beautiful game, cultures connecting, it's a small world stuff. Almost a bit too perfect, but a wonderful surprise none-the-less -- especially for an anti-tourist, tourist such as myself.

"Yes," I said. "I'm Canadian - from Toronto," as if that somehow explained things. "This is my team, Toronto FC."

Smiling the driver said nothing. So, I grabbed the crest and pulled it out towards him.

"Amado Guevara," I said hopefully.

"Yes, Guevara," he said, although it was not clear if he understood or was just back to humour the tourist mode.

Not wanting my truly authentic moment to end, I continued. "What's the team on the island?" I asked. "Arsenal," he said. "But, not the big one," he added laughing.

"Is that your team, or are you an Olimpia guy?"

That's all it took. The forced smile was genuine now. The excitement legitimate. "You know Olimpia!?"

Suddenly we were going back and forth. He's telling me about his favourite team and I'm talking about mine. Both of us are pretending to know more about the other guy's team than we actually do, but both of us understanding exactly what we were talking about – the spirit of it anyway.

This wasn't two guys meeting on the streets of London to talk about the Champions League. We weren't discussing starting formations for a Chelsea - Man U match-up. Nope, we were in a remote part of Honduras and we were talking about a two year old MLS team and a club that plays in Central America. It was hardly the stuff of Setanta Sports, but that didn't make it any less a part of the wonderful kaleidoscope of the beautiful game, our game, truly the world's game.

It's all connected. From country to country, generation to generation, fan to fan. Every last bit of it. Whether we are at home in our living room, or on a remote beach in the Caribbean Sea, we're always wearing our colours.

And the world is a better place for it.

Cross-posted at The 24th Minuute

Type rest of the post here


sager said...

Nice ... and as our friend Sam at The Canadian Stretford End pointed out this morning, it is not too far off from the Montreal Impact's big quarter-final vs. Santos of Brazil. What comes first, club or country?

Strangely enough, just a few days ago I got a comment on my Toronto FC scarf for the first time. It was a few degrees colder in Ottawa that day than it would have been in Honduras.

eyebleaf said...

Welcome back, Duane.

Sam said...

That would be Santos of Mexico :P - but thanks for the plug though...

sager said...

Hey, I have to make mistakes like that, otherwise people might think I'm not the soccer dilettante.