Last night, I had a Super Bowl party at my apartment and had the following conversation with a friend who had never been over that went something like this:
Her: “What are all those papers on your refrigerator?”
Me: “They’re soccer team schedules.”
Her: “Why do you have them?”
Me: “Well, I like sports–”
Her: “Yeah, I heard.”
Me: “I have a slight obsession with sports team schedules and there’s one team for every country I’ve been to. I made them all during a boring day over the summer.”
Her: “You made these? I thought they were professionally done.”
Her: “You should make a blog post about these or something.”
So this post wasn’t exactly my idea. Still, it seemed like a good opportunity to share where all I’ve been and when I was there (in order of appearance)…
ENGLAND (Arsenal): June 2007 as an oboist for the Ohio Ambassadors of Music, then again in August 2012 before studying abroad. Didn’t make it up to Emirates Stadium but the red scarf goes well with my Cincinnati Reds stuff and they’re on NBC Sports Network all the time.
FRANCE (Paris Saint-Germain): June 2007 and October 2012 on fall break. I didn’t appreciate Paris as much the first time I was there, but going to experience the overall atmosphere rather than get bussed around everywhere really gave me a sense of what the city’s about. PSG’s on TV every now and then too.
SWITZERLAND (Sion): June/July 2007. We were actually in Crans-Montana, a resort town on Lake Geneva near Montreux (famous from the Deep Purple song “Smoke on the Water”). I’ve only been in the region that Sion is in, which gives me a great reason to go back–Switzerland is still my favorite country in Europe.
LIECHTENSTEIN (Vaduz): July 2007. You can look at all the super-tiny countries in Europe and think, “Wow, that country’s super tiny,” but it’s entirely different when you drive through the entire country in a half hour. We stopped in Vaduz for lunch, anyway.
AUSTRIA (Wacker Innsbruck): July 2007. Seefeld and Innsbruck are famous for hosting the 1964 Winter Olympics and we were supposed to perform on the stage where they gave out the medals, but it was too rainy. That’s really all I remember, but go team.
ITALY (Lazio): July 2007 (Venice) and October 2012 (Venice, Verona, Rome). Italy’s a great country, and if I ever go back I plan to spend two weeks and take the train everywhere. I figured I’d adopt Lazio as my favorite team to be less mainstream than Roma, but if they’re not playing I’ll politely cheer for Hellas Verona. After all, Verona is one city in Europe where I could see myself living for a long time.
GERMANY (Bayern Munich): July 2007. We went to Rothenburg, an awesome walled Medieval city with a huge Christmas store but no Bundesliga team. Bayern Munich, in addition to being really good, is in the same region and, with Munich being a sister city to Cincinnati, I hope they play at Paul Brown Stadium sometime soon.
SPAIN (Real Madrid): June/July 2008. I went to Spain for a couple weeks with a group from my high school and we spent time in Barcelona, Zaragoza, Madrid, Toledo, Granada, Sevilla, and Malaga. In addition to the sword that sits in the corner of my apartment, the Real Madrid scarf was the first one I ever got and is now one of eight hanging over my desk. Football fan in training.
SCOTLAND (Heart of Midlothian): August 2012. A friend and I took the train up to Edinburgh for a day when we were in London and enjoyed learning about quests for independence, religious atmosphere, and scotch whiskey. I’ll try and make it back for a longer period of time, preferably during an Edinburgh Derby match at Tynecastle Stadium.
GREECE (Panathinaikos): August-November 2012. I lived on Aegina, an island about an hour’s ferry ride from Piraeus. Speaking of Piraeus, who cheers for Olimpiakos? Just kidding, practically everyone does. Hipster football fan in training. But yeah, three months abroad was pretty eye-opening.
TURKEY (Fenerbahce): October 2012. Specifically October 16, 2012, my 21st birthday. I adopted Fenerbahce because a Turkish friend and classmate introduced us all to them. It’s working out for him, so why do something different?
MALTA (Valletta): I’ve never actually been to Malta, but a friend and I did a research project on the country while in Greece and, since I’ve been to Canada but don’t have a team to represent them, I figured I had a freebie. It gives me an excuse to go back to Europe as well.
Finally, I represent the United States with the Columbus Crew of the MLS, Orlando City of USL PRO (for one more year), and the Portland Thorns for womens’ soccer. Now I have them printed out, on my refrigerator, and I fill them in as they play the games to keep track of how they’re doing and reminisce of my three trips across the pond a little. Of course, none of these schedules are official or have anything to do with the associated teams–just with a sports fan who was bored on a Monday night last summer. Feel free to start some fandom of your own, or, if you comment nicely, I might just make one for your favorite team. They’ll all get updated after the seasons end anyway.
What might this have to do with Jacksonville? They do get an NASL expansion team next year and they’ll probably be playing adjacent to the site, and someone will have to keep track of their progress…if not design a new home for them…