Thursday, 15 December 2011

Watching “el Clàssic” in my new home away from home

This Monday evening, it was not my plan to switch on 8tv and watch “Tu diràs”, but in the end I could not resist it. I guess that many of you did the same – to relive some of the moments of el Clàssic last Saturday and hear just how the commentators would phrase their praise for FC Barcelona. Now, the funny detail is that while all of my friends here in Vilanova i la Geltrú consider it perfectly normal that I felt this urge, those who know me from before – my wife is probably the best example – keep being surprised with how I have changed. The truth is that until I moved here I was as interested in football as I am in, let us say, orienteering, i.e. close to zero.

It goes without saying that the feelings I today have for Barça do not originally stem from the brilliant play which Xavi, Iniesta, Messi and the others showed us in the match against Real Madrid. Their technique is something I am only slowly starting to appreciate – it is usually much too fast for my untrained eyes. Instead it is the role football which football plays in society here which, over the time, has captured me completely.

Possibly this is unique for Catalonia where FC Barcelona, as we all know, is far more than a club, més que un club (I cannot compare with other parts of Spain), but here the match schedules set the pace for social life, not only for football fans: all other activities must adapt. In Sweden, for example, a political party would not change the time of a meeting if it happened to coincide with a football match – here it is equally unthinkable not to change it, since if you do not, people simply will not turn up.

Influenced by many friends who are Barça members and, literally, do not miss a single match, I have started to think that football is important! Nowadays I enjoy that our neighbours shoot off fireworks even after the smallest victory and I have developed a need to take part in the big celebrations, when the police conveniently redirect the traffic so that they can take place in the main street of Vilanova - our local version of Canaletes in Barcelona. And then, the day after a victory, I love watching all children who refuse to go to school in anything but their Barça t-shirts. Honestly, we have nothing of this where I come from.

On top of this, learning to understand football is a lot easier here thanks to the – for a Swede strangely intensive - panel discussions (tertulies) you find on all serious Catalan and Spanish radio and TV stations. Since they are so frequent (RAC1 - Catalonia’s most popular radio station -, has at least one daily program dominated by Barça related news) you simply cannot avoid picking up new knowledge. And the constant exposure has for sure helped me develop my Catalan in general but my football vocabulary in particular, which today is far more extensive in Catalan and Spanish than in English or even Swedish. I have, in fact, once found myself in the embarrassing situation not to be able to express such a basic concept as falta (foul) in my native language.

If living here was what made me start following FC Barcelona, taking interest in football now helps me to integrate further in Vilanova – "my town" and "my team" are closely connected. With this in mind, you might understand that I was not exactly happy to realize that my wife had booked tickets for us all to go to Switzerland during the same weekend as Barça was to play the first clàssic of the lliga 2011-12. That is until I realized that I could watch the match in a Barça fan club. So that is where I spent the magic night, Saturday, December 10 – in the Penya Blaugrana of Zürich. Thanks to my new home here, I have gained a lot of homes away from home, all around the world.

- - -
And a few links:

SPA - LaVanguardia: Roberto Rodríguez - Cesc y Alexis Sánchez le dan la razón a Guardiola
SPA - LaVanguardia: David Ruiz Marull - Cristiano Ronaldo, el reflejo del Madrid de Mourinho
SWE - DN: Erik Ask - Tillbaka till ritbordet

No comments: