So can you remember, when you were a child, the first time you attended a football match, a concert or some other event that you now take for granted? If you can recall that day then take a moment and try to recapture the feelings, the confusion, and the excitement of a completely new experience. On Tuesday evening I found myself in the unexpected role of guide and translator for a nine year old girl who had never been to a football match before. A friend of my daughter, her pleasure and wonder added to a fun family evening out watch First Vienna Football Club.
I’m sitting with my morning coffee and it’s the first quiet moment in the last few days, a period which has been dominated by nine year olds, football in general and girl’s football in particular. Since H went to the First Vienna girls football trials last Friday our world has been dominated by the all matters football. So when a friend of H came to stay for a sleepover the choice of DVD was ‘Bend it like Beckham’. By the morning well laid plans to take the girls to an adventure park had been kicked out the window by their instance that we spend the morning in the local park doing football training. By the evening we had wandered down to Sportsklub’s ground to watch the friendly between them and First Vienna.
Whist H has been attending football matches (Leicester City, Austria Wien, and First Vienna) since she was four, this First Vienna match was L’s first ever game. From standing in the queue for tickets to taking our seats L’s face was a mix of awe and confusion, I really had forgotten how different the experience of a football crowd can be in comparison to everyday life. Confusion turned into mild shock when she encountered the noise, sing and chanting of the crowd as the Vienna fans warmed up for kick-off. With a little encouragement from H the two girls were quickly into the swing of vocally giving their support. Just when they had settled into the rhythm of the crowd and the early stages of the game the Vienna bagpipes began to make their distinctive contribution, adding a new dimension and yet another look of surprise on L’s face. Given that both girls are bilingual, there was further pleasure and surprise for L when she realised that Vienna fans were switch between German and English as they moved from one song or chant to another.
As the match progressed L began to ask more and more questions about tactics, refereeing decisions and issues such as what were the role of the people sitting on the bench and why did you need substitutes? As the game moved into the second half both L and H switched increasingly into the mode of your average football fan, expounding on what they would do if playing, questioning the decisions of players and doubting the views of the officials.
Before we went to the match and after the morning’s football training, as well as other fun in the garden, there had been time to relax with a DVD. For the girls there could only be one choice ‘Bend it like Beckham’. As I wander passed on various occasions I was asked to clarify or explain various aspects of the footballing and cultural plot lines. One aspect of which was why there should be any problem when the white male coach and the Sikh girl liked each other. The response from these multicultural nine year olds to the explanation of this plot line was first the word ‘weird’ followed by a pause, followed by ‘that’s stupid’, followed by a shared pause completed with a joint statement of ‘no I don’t get it, me neither’ which translates as ‘you like someone you like them,
everything else is rubbish’.
So as the week comes to an end I seem to be in danger of finding myself spending the summer coaching an increasing number of girls in the arts of football. But then I can’t really complain, it’s fun, they get exercise, it build social skills, and in the case of the youngster in my little corner of Vienna it adds to their multicultural awareness 🙂