Sunday, October 14, 2012

Childhood heroes

I don't care for soccer anymore.

I barely even take note of it these days.

It's a very long way I've come from when I was a soccer mad teen, anxiously checking the overnight scores and staying awake into the early hours to watch Champions League games.  It seemed important to be aware of what was happening on the other side of the world.  In a strange way, it also made me feel more connected to the world.  Living in Australia, with its indigenous sports and culture so far removed from anything done outside, it was easy to grab hold of soccer and its traditions as a way of being part of a greater global community.

It didn't last though.

The grip of soccer on me loosened as I saw what once seemed to be an environment based around the power of the clubs turn into a proxy for warring oligarchs to make ostentatious displays of wealth.  The whole idea of the game just didn't seem so interesting after that.

With this lack of current interest in soccer, I was surprised that I was in the stands of a soccer game in Australia, excitedly waiting the start of a game.  It wasn't even an international, it was just your ordinary and standard local league game.

A local game with a difference though, as Alessandro Del Piero was playing!

The thought of ever being able to see the amazing Del Piero playing was not something I had contemplated.  He had always been in my mind one of those near legendary figures that seems to have almost appeared out of a storybook rather than real life.

So together with over 30 000 other people (a number which was shocking itself), I stood and waited for the spectacle of the great Del Piero.

I expected that I would be writing that I was disappointed and that what I saw was a shadow of what I had once known.  It seems almost be the expected theme of what I now write, but happily this was not the case of faded memories and lost heroes.

Age had slowed him, but it had not robbed him of his brilliance and he still danced passed defenders with his subtle tricks and darting movements.

As he stood at the corner to take one his kicks, hundreds of arms lifted immediately and the flashes of cameras burst out to capture the moment.  Bathed in the flickering lights, it was clear that even though he had traded his black and whites for the unfamiliar sky blues, he was still the hero he has always been.

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