Right now I should be working on three documents for separate programmes ready to implement early next year but……its the World Cup and this means that countries all over the world get to witness living art and I am distracted. Its a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the passion, energy, anticipation and gravitas of this game.
It is so easy for some people to dismiss football as an obsession of men but if we study it carefully, we can see that if it is “an obsession of men” then it has a history of liberation for men and an opportunity to belong to a wider group which is hard-wired in us all.
I can not watch any game, whether it is just passing a game in my local park, or a premier league all-singing, all-dancing match, without being reminded about the story of the Makana Football Association in South Africa, wonderfully told in the docu-drama More than just a Game and how liberating and important football was to the moment.
I am reminded too of JB Priestley’s “To say that these men paid their shillings to watch 22 hirelings kick a ball is merely to say that a violin is wood and catgut, that Hamlet is so much paper and ink”.
I remember in my youth, the serious tones on Sunday afternoon, while my father watched Match of the Day (i think Grandstand was on Saturdays – but it could be a false memory) and his body would jerk in beat to the movements of the footballers on the screen and involuntary “aaaahs” and “for feck sake!” would accompany the whole match.
As I see the heads of the England team dropping further and further since their games with USA and Algeria, how I wish someone would sit them in a group just before they step foot on the pitch for their big game and ask each one of them to relay their best game, their most treasured performance, to be then encouraged to describe it in the most minute detail and to step into that moment again just before they step out …………..certainly couldn’t be any worse a strategy than the 4-4-2 me thinks.