World Cup Fever – The Jamaican Experience

Courtesy of the Gleaner

With Covid-19 in play, sports has become almost a distant memory. Media outlets however have taken the opportunity to relive some of the best moments in sports, much to the elation of sports fan.

In June 2018, the world witnessed an epic tournament in the ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’ – The World Cup.

Jason’s Voice was in the thick of things and published the below almost two years ago.

Originally Published June 12, 2018

“GOOAAAL!” I heard in a loud chorus coming from the front of the yard. I rushed around to see the replay, knowing that Brazil must have taken the lead, but I had to see it for myself! Romario latched on to a through ball from Dunga, leaving three defenders in his wake in the process and coolly slotting home to give Brazil the lead against Cameroon. Brazil went on to win that match 3-0 and would later beat Italy on penalties to win the 94’ World Cup title. That tournament left a lasting impression on me and from then on I became a Brazil fan.The year was 1994, I was 9 going on 10 and I was completely enamored by the world cup fever. I lived in a pretty volatile community at that time, but in June 1994 no one could tell. In the 24 years that have followed since, I’ve only witnessed three other events that united Jamaicans as much as the World Cup; a nine night in the country, a hurricane and the Olympics. There’s a certain feeling in the atmosphere whenever the world cup comes around. No matter which team you support, there’s always a certain camaraderie when people interact with each other during this time. People seem more patient and kind towards their fellow citizens, even allowing someone to go ahead of them in a tax office or a bank line on a month end Friday evening. It is usually also the period with the lowest level of productivity in the country, especially those industries dominated by men. Employers often complain about their staff not properly or sufficiently carrying out their tasks. In my first job I remember going to my boss’s office to get a document signed, just in time to hear him tell someone on the phone “tell him I can see him idling right from my computer screen!” I looked at his computer screen and saw my coworker, Jomo in the lunch room fully engrossed in a football match. I was in shock, but noticed that my boss’s computer screen was split in two. While he was watching Jomo on the left of the screen, he was watching the same match that Jomo was, on the right of the screen. He turned to me while signing my document and said “Jason, don’t pick up those bad habits. You are here to work, not watch football!” I nodded in agreement with him and rushed out of his office. That encounter taught me one lesson; become successful enough to watch the world cup any time, anywhere. It has since been my life’s mission.

During the world cup, Jamaicans usually become football experts as well; like the woman who sells soup in the ‘3 Miles’ area – Miss Hortence. Having missed lunch one day last week, I decided to get a cup of soup from her. After inquiring what kind of soup she had left, she responded “mi ongle have chicken foot soup wid cow foot.” I ordered a large one and while sharing it out she asked me which team I was supporting, I said “Brazil a my team man” to which she replied “a bare waggonist follow Brazil, dass why a Germany mi sey straight!” (such irony) I wasn’t too surprised by her response, as with Germany winning the last World Cup, plenty Jamaicans now claimed them as their team. I asked her who was her favorite player and she responded quickly “the big yeye one, Oozil” I was even more shocked that she actually knew one of the player’s name, albeit not pronouncing it correctly. I thought to myself that this couldn’t be real, so I decided to test her a little bit. I asked “suh wah yuh think bout Hitler? Yuh nuh rate him?” to which she replied “how yuh mean if mi nuh rate him?! If him nah play, we inna trouble!” I burst out laughing and she began to look embarrassed and I quickly stared at my phone as if I had just read an hilarious message. I gave her the money in a hurry and collected my soup and went back to my office.

In my haste to leave, I forgot to collect my change from Miss Hortence so I had to return. The following day, I went to collect my change but she didn’t recognize me. Miss Hortence asked “what change? Is di first a seeing yuh” my heart sank immediately. I said “I bought a large chicken foot soup from you with cow foot yesterday out of a thousand dollars.” She then looked intently on me from head to toe and said “ok sar, mi will know if is lie yuh telling…which team yuh carrying fi di world cup and who is yuh favorite player?” I thought for a quick second and then responded “Germany and my favorite player is Hitler”

Written By: Jason McPherson


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