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World Cup — through the eyes of kids and camels

June 26, 2014

(Published by The Malay Mail on 19 June)

 

Has World Cup fever hit your household? If so, read on, and let’s compare notes.

 

So Tuesday morning, the very first thing my boys did was race downstairs and turn on channel L’Équipe 21: “Portugal lost! Poor Ronaldo”… “Yes! (an upwards hand punch) I can wear my ‘USA Team’ top today”. That was the exchange between my 7 and 9 year-old as they watched reports of Germany’s 4:0 annihilation of Portugal, and America’s 2:1 win over Ghana.

 

World Cup mania is alive and kicking under my roof. I love it, and the way it takes precedence over everything else. Housework, homework, sleep even, they’re all playing second fiddle to “le foot” (as it’s fondly called). Although, I don’t know how many more late night match-watching we can pull off: I’m sure their school teachers have noticed the tired eyes and accompanying rattiness.

 

It’s only once every four years, I reason. And at risk of stating the obvious: isn’t every game a geography lesson? 32 countries on 6 different continents — with strange and exotic names like ‘Bosnia-Herzegovina’ and Côte d’Ivoire? I have my map at the ready!

 

The excitement began when I bought a FIFA World Cup sticker album last month. Now pocket money is spent on filling in the blanks. There was much jumping around recently when the last packet contained their favourite Brazilian player ‘Hulk’. Now they want his mate ‘Fred’. Easy nicknames that kids quickly master.

 

My eldest son diligently writes the daily scores on our kitchen whiteboard, now a colorful jigsaw of printouts showing the 8 football groups, miniature flags and match schedules. Will his enthusiasm last the full 64 matches? I guess this depends on whether their favourite countries are still in the running. This brings me neatly to my kids’ World Cup dilemma: who to support?

 

For some households, this isn’t a problem. A nanny told me it’s “Belgium or broke” for the two lads she looks after: their Belgian father is football nuts and while they live in France and have a French mother, he (they) remain loyal to the land of moules-frites.

 

One mum said her kids’ football preferences were influenced by peer pressure in the playground, while others seek a less conventional route such as following the whims of Shaheen a World Cup-predicting camel. My Syrian friend says her son logs onto Facebook to consult with the humped-football expert from the deserts of Dubai, before deciding who to support.

 

 

Shaheen the camel predicts the World Cup winners from her home in deserts of Dubai — but she’s wrong this time! — File picShaheen the camel predicts the World Cup winners from her home in deserts of Dubai — but she’s wrong this time! — File pic

 

- See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/opinion/helen-hickey/article/world-cup-through-the-eyes-of-kids-and-camels#sthash.wFmzU1Z7.dpuf

 

Shaheen the camel predicts the World Cup winners from her home in deserts of Dubai — but she’s wrong this time! – See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/opinion/helen-hickey/article/world-cup-through-the-eyes-of-kids-and-camels#sthash.wFmzU1Z7.dpuf

We’re British, what about England I hear you say? But as the kids have never lived in Blighty, it’s not on their radar (I’m fine with this given it’s over half-a-century since their only World Cup win, not to mention the woes of Wayne Rooney).

 

My eldest son first announced he was supporting Real Madrid, but after explaining that the World Cup is about countries, not regional teams, he swapped to supporting both “Spain” and “España”; then followed a short French lesson.

 

He wore his Spanish footy kit under his school uniform on Monday and Wednesday, his gym days, although after the Dutch pummelling of Spain on Friday (and much taunting by his younger brother), he’s recently moved his interest to Brazil; for the time being.

 

It’s all about the USA for the baby of the family, naturally, given he was born in Texas. I haven’t the heart to tell him that the land of soccer has never won a World Cup, and according to the (beer) bets being placed on the email by the American dads I know, they are highly unlikely to qualify to ‘Round of 16′.

 

No worries, he’s also got a French football teeshirt, and heartedly cheered “Allez les bleus! Allez Benzema!” on Sunday night when France (known as ‘the blues’) beat Honduras 3:0. Hedging his bets just like his brother — boys are so competitive — they want to back the winners, no matter what.

 

And my girls? My eldest is proudly sporting a Brazil teeshirt on her sailing trip this week. Whereas her sister leaves the room when the football’s on; it’s not everyone’s cuppa.

 

ITunes ‘Spin the Globe’ soccer songs — from Shakira’s World Cup anthem ‘La La La (Brazil 2014)’ to Freddie Mercury’s ‘We Are the Champions’ — play as I race to finish this column ready for Australia/Holland match.

 

The boys are upstairs putting on their orange hockey teeshirts; they have a hunch Robin van Persie will perform…

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