Bonjour, or should I say Yiassou having just returned from the Greek island of Crete. My girlfriend and I had a lovely time, a much deserved break for us both, a chance to relax in the sun, snorkel and various other activities.
It was about the fourth day into our holiday, and one of the cleaners who smiled so much it could almost be considered a condition, greeted us with a big smile and a loud “kalimera,”! Needless to say Stacey and I looked at each other slightly puzzled as to what “kalimera” meant. We later found out that it meant ‘good morning’, however it took us four days (out of a possible 7) to realise that we didn’t know any Greek. We were in Crete, but knew nothing of their language.
In our defence, upon arrival we could have easily thought we had landed in Birmingham, we were greeted by a long string of midlanders, it felt like the Costa del Coventry. Upon arrival to the airport and getting to the hotel, to being around the pool and on the beach, people would talk to us in English. This worried me slightly, was I that pale that they knew I was English? I had no Harry Potter books on me, and I didn’t drink tea so it couldn’t have been living up to the stereotype, and Stacey refused to allow me to pack my union jack bandana, much to my dismay!!!
We felt rude, we were in someone else’s country and we hadn’t even tried speaking their language. From then on we made a real conscious effort to speak in their language, admittedly for them to answer in English but at least we had tried.
During the same day I discovered a new language. A revelation. A language that we could all speak, no matter what country of origin. I found out that I could speak “Football”! I discovered this whilst walking past the numerous taverns and bars, each showing a different football match as to cater for everyone. I found myself speaking “Football” to so many different people.
Football has become an international language in itself. Adored and loved by so many, everyone has their own opinion on teams, players and managers, and regardless of if you want to hear someone’s opinion, if you speak Football you will receive it! Luckily for me, the island was full of Man Utd supporters, so I felt at home amongst friends. Whether it was just “what a goal” and sticking your thumbs up at them, or just naming players such as Messi and shaking your head in disbelief of his mastery of a football, it became a conversation, somewhat disjointed, but a conversation none the less.
Football brings people together. From all different walks of life, locally and as I found out - internationally. At Little Kickers we have sessions running on the other side of the world. And yes, some of us have slightly different accents, some may even speak another language, but speaking the language of Football has allowed people to share ideas, discuss opinions and bring people closer together. At Little Kickers children learn to love the game in the correct atmosphere, the love for the game so that in 18 years time, when they go off on their first holiday you know they are that little bit safer in the country because they can speak the same language….Football.
Note: If you are a Man Utd fan, do not holiday in Liverpool and expect to speak the same language. Lesson learnt.