Offside Memories: My First Encounter With Football

Football is a sport with not-so-great fandom in India. Of course, people know when there is a World Cup going on but they are least bothered to watch it. There are two reasons that account for:

1. Most of the people don’t understand football.

2. The match timings are always in nights in India.

But, the popularity is slowly gaining momentum. People have started to take more interest in football than before and the younger generation looks forward to moving on from traditional cricket to football. I remember I watched my first football match in 2006. The match was a World Cup Final in which France and Italy were the two teams.

The telecast was scheduled at 1.30 am, so I had to watch it discreetly. Sounds were kept low as everyone in home was sleeping. I was excited about this match because of only one reason-Zinedin Zidane. He had announced his retirement from football after this final match. All I knew about him then, and even now, that he was a great legend. I wanted to see how he played. No, I don’t want to become a footballer, but still I admire the game.

So with drinks and snacks I sat on the sofa in front of the TV to watch this legend. Within the first 5-minutes, or may be 10, he was shown the red card. Why? He had an italian footballer with his head. Everything seemed so dramatic then.

And this is what I like about football than cricket. Here, every team stands equal on field and so is every player unlike cricket. In cricket, there always dominates one team over the rest and that team is favoured unjustifiably on field in certain cases. There are times when one player is intentionally targeted in a match of cricket.

May be I am a novice when football is concerned, but even today I find every footballer being treated with an equal eye whenever I get to see a match.

However, the next day, it turned out in the media that the italian player who was hit by Zidane in the football match had abused him verbally in retaliation of which Zidane had hit him.

As we all know, France had lost that Football World Cup Final to Italy and as an early enthusiast of football and Zidane of course, I had been greatly disappointed. This was my first encounter with football.