May 29, 2012
Looking back at the days we were in Europe, the historic monuments we saw, the prominent stadiums we stood in and the famous futboler's steps we walked in, it still seems surreal. The opportunity to go to England and Holland with our teammates and coaches was one in a lifetime. During our trip we toured around London via the Tube (the city's subway system), walked around the Roman-built town of Chester and biked around the famous city of Amsterdam. We were also given the opportunity to play the Charlton Ladies and Manchester City Ladies in England.
Europe, at least from what I saw, was filled with as expected, crazy futbol-loving fans. In America, soccer is not as adored as other sports such as American football, baseball, or basketball. Whereas in Europe, it's literally their world. Driving down their roads you see parks lined with futbol goals, instead of basketball courts and in stores you see an abundance of cheap futbols, not baseballs. It was nice seeing the sport that I am passionate about be adored and loved by everyone else.
By far the highlight of the entire trip was that we got to see in person the "Super Bowl" of all futbol matches. The match of Manchester City versus QBR defined a generation, when Manchester City rose above a late challenge to win the English League title for the first time in 44 years. This epic match had everyone on the edge of their seats until the last few minutes when Manchester City won 3-2 in stoppage time and consequently knocked out the world famous and more accomplished team Manchester United from first place. It was the experience we all were looking for, surrounded in all directions by European futball culture. It was definitely a different atmosphere than the typical American sport; screaming at the players and arguing with the referees were the norm, while the chants, songs and dances brought everyone in the entire stadium together.
For those 90 minutes I felt connected to every complete stranger because we all shared the same love for the game. It did not matter if we were American, if we loved the game (and cheered for their team) then we were family. Once Manchester City scored the winning goal I turned to the strangers behind and in front of me, hugged and screamed at the top of my lungs with them and sang the Queen's victory anthem until we couldn't any more.
You would never get the same experience at an American football game like that. Futbol connects all of Europe, it gives the fans and players a sense of unity, it gives a feeling that you are part of something and care about something bigger than yourself, even if it is just a sport. That's the main thing I take away from this trip.