Tag Archives: Football

Football on a Windy October Saturday

I’ve lived nearly one fifth of my life in Germany. Crazy how time flies. Oddly enough, on most days it doesn’t even feel like I live in Germany. At work I used English, at home, well, I just speak to myself and most of my friends are non-Germans hence the lingua franca is English when we gather to socialise with each other. But the moments when I do remember I live in Germany (which I’m happy about btw) are the moments to do with Football. Never have I seen a crowd erupt like they did when Germany won the World Cup a few years back (see post) or when a second league team (St. Pauli) scores a goal against a random team in a seemingly meaningless match on September Monday. Moreover, what Hockey is to the finns (debatable yes..) is Football to the Germans.

Last year, one of my best friends invited me to join for a beer at the pub of their football team, THC Franziskaner FC (yes, they have their own pub as an amateur team – how nice is that?) If anyone says Germans can be a bit standoffish, well, they’ve clearly never been to a football pub. Even though, the last time I kicked a ball was probably in High School, I was welcomed with hugs and handshakes, as if by friends who I had known for ages. You can sense the camaraderie, similar to that of what arguably I felt during my hockey times or even in the military.It’s this friendliness that’s made me become a regular at the events of the team.

Yesterday I joined the guys at their game and saw it as an opportunity to also catch a few photos in the mix. The game was played on top of a wholesale store (Wallmart size) and as one can imagine, it was windy up there. There was a good crowd of supporters of the team and also of the opposing “Spartans”, with one heckler amongst them being the loudest, trying the hardest to amuse and also throw the opposition off their game. “Franziskaner THC” chants echoed, as the game went on in true football weather, with sunshine one minute and rain the next. The Game was entertaining (I’m a Finn, so what would I know about Football right? ) and the atmosphere was fun and warm, even if my hands begged to differ by going numb from the chilly wind. I managed to get a few decent pics also during the match, before the fresh autumn weather killed my battery. The Boys in Orange were able to fight off the Spartans for the a good chunk of the game, only during the second half giving up a goal or two, which eventually cost them the game. We often have heard when playing amateur sports, probably from our parents, that winning isn’t everything and if as a kid I merely took those words as just something moms and dads say when you’ve lost a game, now more than ever I felt it was indeed, nearly all the same, whether the guys won or lost on the pitch. It was secondary. Of course, you play to win, but the feeling on the pitch and in the stands was the “win” of the day. Regardless of seeing the ball go into the net or not, everyone had fun and got their fair share of laughs that day.

Now I, as mentioned am not a footballer, but I still felt almost a part of the team whilst watching the guys sprint after the ball and us cheering them on. It was fun. If at times I forget that I live in Germany, this was definitely the moment where I remembered that I was indeed living in the capital of a country that loves its Football. And it is these moments, that I am lucky to be able to be a part of, since for a short moment I don’t feel like an “expat” living in his own little English bubble, but I feel like just one of the guys, chit chatting about football (in German) and having laughs about bad calls by ref and the reactions of the opposition. Who knows, given the progression of my interest for Football, maybe one day I too will take a turn at kicking the ball, but for now I’ll make due with shooting with my camera from the sidelines.

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Attitude

Olympic Games, World Cups and The Euros. Those are among the most interesting events in recent history that have lacked a considerable amount of Finnish colours, as in Finland has not been represented in a major football (soccer) tournament since the Olympic games in 1980, which were held in the now defunct USSR. The Finnish national team has at times been rather close to making it to the “big games”, however always lacking the “final push” to win important games so as to qualify for the tournaments. Nevertheless, we Finns are not ones to give up easy, nor do we listen to commonsense.

Most cities abroad, when hit by a blizzard, go into “lock-down”; Airports, schools, stores, you name it, close down and people tend to not go outside if it is not mandatory for them to do so. When Helsinki gets a ton of snow (as expected) it’s business as usual, no big deal. Still, even though, I am a full-fledged Finn and do manage well in this climate that has been given to us, even I wouldn’t think of going out to play football in this weather (and this has nothing to do with the fact that I am more of an Ice Hockey fan).

It had not even crossed my mind that when I went outdoors for a walk with my camera that I would run into kids running around the fields, first clearing the pitches of snow and afterwards kicking the ball around. It was as if the players did not notice that Siberia was moving to Helsinki flake by flake, already occupying most of the football pitches with large amounts of snow. I for one enormously enjoy being indoors and staying warm, heck, I even skipped ice hockey practices as a kid, simply because I did not feel like going outside, which is why it is hard to get my head around why these youngsters would go outside, during a blizzard and play football?! In shorts! (They did have long johns underneath, but still!)

To my understanding the main club of Helsinki, HJK, travels abroad, seeking warmth and holding their training camps in more desirable destinations, but I also know that there are a number of indoor training facilities at the disposal of these young Ronaldinhos running around in the snow here. I would have to assume that there are not enough facilities to cater to these seemingly enthusiastic football prodigies, or that these guys really enjoy some fresh air. Be it as it may, I have to say that, even though, I have given football in Finland a hard time, I have to respect these dudes for doing their thing, rain or shine, kinda like the U.S. Postal Service (Ok, for the postal service it’s probably more of a marketing motto).

Regardless of the fact that we have not seen Finland in tournaments in a long time, I have a strong feeling that that is going to change in the future. It has to. It’s a long and rocky road, but we have already seen positive outcomes of the Finnish training system, Teemu Pukki and Joel Pohjanpalo to name a few prospects. With this amount of attitude and perseverance these guys have even in their training, if we manage to add a bit more skill into that, I think we will be seeing Finland in the major tournaments once more in the future.

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Berlinist

It’s been a while since I wrote a post, mainly because I’ve been occupied by my University studies and the seemingly never ending task of finding an internship for the second half of this year.

Although I have not written here, I have still been actively carrying my camera around with me, trying to capture pictures of this wonderful city that is the big B. aka Berlin. During the past few months I have tried to do some “tourist” stuff, usually without success, travelling around the city with a s-bahn,u-bahn, tram or bus to take me further away of the areas where normally even my own two feet would carry me. Even though I’ve spent literally weeks crisscrossing this city, I still have not seen most of the common sightseeing attractions, which might be my task for the summer. For now I’ll just consider myself as a “Berlinist”, being a tourist within this city seeing sights that no one else actually might think to see.

Without really rambling on too much in this post, I’ll just sum up one of my numerous weeks spent here in a couple of words and pictures: I went to an old Stasi prison, a football match and ended up witnessing a fire.

Phew, that was concise wasn’t it? Now for the visuals ( you can prolly link each picture to the appropriate event mentioned):

It's OK

IamJPR

I did actually make one trip even outside of Germany during this spring already, but more on that later on.

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