As you can probably tell by the title of the post, this one is about the World Cup. Sadly, Ireland aren't in the running at all (boo!). Due to the time differences, I haven't been able to watch any matches until today as they are on at 1 am, 4am and 7am, Korea time. Ok, in fairness, I could watch SOME 7am matches but getting up in time is unlikely!
Today, however, Korea were playing against Russia and my co-teacher informed me that the students and teachers would meet at 7 in the gym to watch the game. I arrived for 7.30 and I could hear chants and drums reverberating the whole way through the school - from the entryway to my classroom. When I walked into the auditorium a few of my students rushed over to ask if I was going to watch with them and they were delighted when I said that I was.
I sat with my co-teacher and we talked about the Korean and Irish football teams and she asked me if I knew much about the game. We both cheered on Korea and shared thoughts on how the team was doing. Every time Korea took a shot at the goal or seemed to be advancing well the entire school would take up a chant. I couldn't quite hear what the words were but it sounded like "Viva...." I am sure it was something along the lines of Viva Hanguk but I couldn't hear the "Hanguk" (Hanguk means Korea). I never thought I could miss the "Ole" but I do and I had really hoped to see my students perform the Mexican Wave. When Korea scored that lovely little goal the students erupted. Drums were banged. Everyone was cheering, high-fiving and hugging each other. It reminded me of World Cup 1990 when we scored against England. We were watching at my Granny's house up in Cabra and everyone ran out of the house cheering and screaming. It might have been a draw but our team "won" in our hearts.
And while I erupted like everyone else, I could see that Korea had gotten cocky and were playing far too often in their own half. I, also, thought their play was a little sloppy after they scored, so I just knew that Russia was going to score. And man, was I right. As shock clouded their joy, the students booed and quietened down for a while. However, their enthusiasm for their team never waned at all and any chance - even when Russia was in their box - they cheered their team on.
Afterwards, I taught 6th grade and we discussed the game - they were understandably upset at the draw. And I wow-ed them by telling them I've seen 7 world cups. This also shocked them as they started saying "Teacher - old! Teacher, you're old". Thankfully one student has my back and he kept saying "No, no! Teacher - young!"
So you might think I'm mad but I'm really glad I went into school early this morning. You might think I'm mad to really miss the Ole and the Mexican Wave. But, to me, they are what have embodied the World Cup and football, along with the fantastic footwork, for as far back as I can remember - which is the game that resulted in the playground chant that echoed right through to World Cup 1994: "Who put the ball in England's net? Houghton, Houghton" during Euro 1988.
With that, Ole!