Monday, July 17, 2006

A month of football, finished..

So a month of football, following Ghana’s Black Stars – their triumphs and tragedies, until elimination; then supporting France (my long time favourite) all the way up to the final match versus Italy tonight.

France has lost. 5 – 3 on penalties, with an extra time and full game end score of 1 – 1. I’m feeling a little sad (but not really, just kind of disappointed and more thinking of how I’m going to miss football – it got me through a lot of difficult times here, believe it or not) but most especially because my favourite player, Zinedine Zidane, got sent off in such a tragic fashion.

In the second half of extra time, some words were exchanged between Zidane and Materazzi of Italy – suddenly, they got heated and Zidane hit Materazzi. This isn’t to say that the general audience even caught any of it – the camera was elsewhere, but the commentators showed it in the replay. Funny, because unless you were right there on the pitch, you wouldn’t know what provoked it. It was not some ongoing animosity between the teams, just something mentioned between the two players: probably something pretty horrible, to motivate such an act of temper and long term stupidity (I might imagine). Zidane, the captain, my favourite and probably the favourite of a lot of people (1.3 billion in total watching worldwide), got shown a red card.

A legitimate red card, unfortunately – there’s no real argument if you hit somebody on the field – but a tragic one at that. With France’s captain and one of their phenomenal penalty takers gone (as well as Thierry Henry, another awesome player, injured and not able to take penalties), and the match going into penalties.. well, the results showed.

The worst being however, that this is Zidane’s last international match, afterwards he will go into international retirement, due to his age. A phenomenal player right up there with the world’s best, he should have at least some kind of graceful exit – at least losing as the captain of the 2nd best team in the world. But no – due to that red card, he had to leave the field, and wasn’t allowed to watch the penalties from the bench (FIFA rules though..), or even take a 2nd place medal (this one I’m kind of appalled at, doesn’t that bite?!) for leading his team through this far. Commentators mentioned – ‘must be the loneliest man in the world right now..’ and seriously, what a horrible feeling to have. Sitting alone in the dressing room…

Anyway, the world cup is over, and since we have one channel only, its unlikely they will show more football unless its relevant to Ghana (its not..).

But its striking how I feel empathy for this guy, who I don’t even know, from a country I don’t even belong to, who ended a long and glorious career with an act of temper that messed everything up. What do I know about temper? Oh, plenty.

Its slowly cooled down especially since I left high school, but I once was, and in certain circles still am, renowned for being a hot-tempered firebrand. I would just get angry and let loose and the worst possible things would exit my mouth with phenomenally eloquent speed. I even lost a best friend of 7 years over something stupid I said in anger. So I know that feeling, all too well, of sitting alone thinking ‘for the love of everything good - ?! why the hell did I say/do that?!? g’d I’m an idiot!’. I know the feeling a little too well for my taste.

Being overseas somehow moulds your patience; having realised that I’ve run out of patience, I always look to find more. The fear of cultural insensitivity, language barriers, permanent negative repercussions have sealed my mouth and made me endure in many situations where I might have just exploded. Interesting. The only time I really remember losing my temper in the last two months was with those chickens… the ones that shit on my clothes… hehe.
It makes you also realise how impermanent and non-binding are some aspects of your ‘personality’ are, despite having claimed the contrary. I’ve not lost my temper – me, short tempered Apoorva, I’ve thrown up at the side of the road while 7 people watched – me, shy Apoorva. I’ve eaten termites and goat and killed a chicken – squeamish, vegetarian Apoorva. And the girl that my parents probably think is somewhat lazy and a ‘princess’ – I have never, not even once, not even a sock, let anybody wash any of my clothes here. Or draw my water. Or sweep my room. Why? To be honest, left to my own devices I’d have never changed any of these things – some, like my vegetarianism, I’ve given up with reluctance and will reclaim as soon as I get home. But its definitely largely in part of the attitude and environment of Engineers Without Borders Canada, and the mindset with which all of us (and I’m sure my friends have made similar changes) were placed here, that I’ve become flexible, patient, enduring – somewhat anyway.

I mean, everyone fails, which I’ve realised before, but has been reinforced today. Even Zinedine Zidane, my great hero, also has a temper. But its contrasted by what I’ve learned while I’ve been here – that you are what you make yourself to be; the myth that your personality and actions are utterly out of your own hands – “This is how I Am” syndrome – is mostly a lie. Your actions are what you make them to be; your attitude is based on what you decide it will be.

Then if change in the world, change in your country, your city, your neighbourhood, yourself – if that change comes from your actions, what is stopping you from achieving that change? It is that inflexibility – the “this is how I Am” syndrome –the apathy which accompanies that inflexibility and the growing disease that will flow outwards from that point.

So I guess, a lapse of temper, however sad may be the repercussions, is an acceptable risk at a football match. Even the World Cup Finals, even your last international game, even if your heart and soul are in the game of football – because (and many of you may wince as I write this) it is only a game. But these lapses of judgement are sadly infectious – this stubborn clinging to the idea that there is no choice in action and attitude – they are spreading into every realm, and eventually lives and truly, the future of humanity and the world, begin to be concerned. What in a microcosm is merely a disappointment becomes a devastating and disgusting failure and tragedy on the macrocosm – the world and its people, and creatures, and land, simply can not afford many such failures.

It is evident, especially at this critical time in humankind’s history, that the team that plays best together, will win. The team that sometimes compromises, that is willing to change individual attitudes and actions, to advance a collective cause – that team will triumph. The game we are playing for, the trophy if you will, is higher stakes than we can even realise in our short lifetimes. And I hate to say it, but right now, all of us are collectively failing. Our team is not doing well. We can afford maybe one or two mistakes, but if each member decides that they are ‘as they are’ and simply can not change, that they will act in the manner they alone see fit…… we’re screwed. The future of humankind lies not in some individuals being ‘selfless’ and well intentioned (but badly planned) vanity projects deeply entwined with the belief that the ‘wealthy’ should give to the ‘needy’ – it lies in that vision of common cooperation and codetermination of what is to come for our species on this lovely planet. That you have to cut your own growth down sometimes, compromise, to make room for everyone to share. This alone will bring about a future, and even a present, that we are proud of: one that will change us from cruel keepers of the caged bird humanity, but guardians of something beautiful – about to take flight.


At 3:15 a.m., Blogger Victor Kr said...


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