How I Came to Love the Beautiful Game
I’m an American girl — a Jersey girl to be specific. I grew up in a household in which sports were big (watching more than playing). I remember watching practically every Yankee game with my dad, and being able to name every player and talk stats with the boys in my class. (I can still name every member of that Yankees team of the late 1970s!) We also followed other traditional American sports, and my mom was as much, if not more, of a fan than the rest of us. I used to ask if she had some secret ownership in some of the teams she supported because her enthusiasm was overwhelming.
Then in 2003, I met my husband…and like me, he loved sports — but not the same ones I loved and followed. He is a Brit. So instead, he liked cricket, rugby and soccer. How could someone like a game that can last five days?! Or one that can end in a zero-zero tie?!? This was going to be problematic.
But against my better judgment, I was soon watching soccer. Those first few games were painful…but then my enthusiasm started to increase, a bit. Perhaps it was because we were living in Dubai by this time and everyone seemed to unite over their love of soccer. Or perhaps it was because I loved watching my very young boys running up and down the field with their classmates from all over the world. Or maybe it was because many of the coaches were from “somewhere else” and most with cool accents. Whatever it was, I was definitely being drawn in. Then things really got exciting. Manchester City, my husband’s lifelong soccer/futbol team, was bought by our neighbor down the road in Abu Dhabi — Sheikh Mansour. For the first time in my husband’s life, his team had money, and money meant new players. Suddenly, soccer supporters were starting to take notice as the club climbed the league table — finishing 10th, then 5th, then 3rd and then finally winning the Premier League title in 2011/2012. My husband never thought he would see this in his lifetime, and crazy as it sounds, I was as excited as he was!
These days, back in New Jersey, I spend a huge amount of my time driving my boys (now 8 and 10) to soccer practice and back and usually watching four soccer games a weekend. As a family, we continue to support Manchester City of course, but now have a team on our side of the pond to support — NYCFC, ironically co-owned by the NY Yankees and Manchester City!
Soccer has become so much more than a game to our family. It is a shared passion among the four of us…it has been an activity that has brought so many friendships to both my boys and me. It has deepened the bond between my husband and his boys, and between my husband and me, in a funny way. It has been a bridge between not only my husband’s culture and my own, but one that most countries in the world share. In whatever capacity, the Beautiful Game will always be a part of our family.
Daria Linnington had been a marketer for 25 years, 18 of which were spent at Condé Nast (GQ, Gourmet, Condé Nast Traveler and Architectural Digest). She now spends the majority of her free time attending her two sons’ sporting events, watching sports on TV or attempting to play sports herself. She is also a contributor to TheRelish.