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Chief Seattle, World Cup Football (er Soccer) and Un-Diversity!

Jul 10, 2014

Currently in a city named after Chief Seattle (1790-1866, a member of the Squamish – Duwamish tribes), I cannot but help alluding to his profound reverence for nature. It represents an underlying unity for howsoever vast diversity of a humanity. Mind you, all this with the ongoing Football World Cup in the backdrop!


Despite living in a wired and connected world, the accessibility to a live match is a function of your being awake (and willingness to be) in front of a receptor which has an access to the coverage channel. The good part was as the matches unfolded, I was moving ‘closer’ to the host country. Hence the ability to see any telecast during daylight hours. Given that I was on long flights only made it very compelling that I somehow find the right screens at transit airports. An older passion such as Wimbledon could always wait. I was, therefore, not the only impatient one in front of the Heathrow screens that insisted on a dose of Tennis alone.


Whilst in New York, bang in the heart of Manhattan, a big screen behind the hotel, besides a park, all matches were live. In the US versus Belgium, looking at the crowd mix, you could never guess where that may be. A melting pot of America that was anything but Caucasian. Every time the Yankees attacked Belgian defence, the crowd roared and waved the Stars & Stripes. The ending was not to their liking and that’s when you could figure out that the diverse lot was indeed American.


Once again, at the JFK. The scramble for live screen was evident. Brazil was playing Colombia. A national holiday for the Colombians. Brazil was still the contender and on a pedestal. As the two teams battled the ones with Brazilian affiliation made a pronounced presence. “I am half Portuguese and half Brazilian living in America. I supported those two teams till such time they were around. It’s got to be Brazil now”. Then someone mistakenly perceived to be supporting the Colombian forays was asked was he from that country. How could others miss out his wrist band with the obvious shades of yellow and green? All he had to prove his loyalty was to point it out and say “Man just look at this!” “What did you make of the Brazilian outcome”, I asked a Colombian couple yesterday. They were most graceful in their comments and indeed supportive. Finally, it’s a final with Europe pitched against South America!


Interestingly, I get a sense that not everyone has so far gone by the ‘country’ template. You may rather be guided by your choice/ choices of a club or cup or league affiliation hence a player in a team becomes your team. African origin players dominate many teams even though African countries may not have reached thus far. A Boateng brother in Ghana will not hold back his delight for the other Boateng in the German team!


Asians did not fare too well either. With Japan, South Korea and Iran scoring just a point each. There are enough kids around there who can tell you virtually anything everything about teams and players. Balls manufactured in Pakistan; referees from across the world and a German coach for the Americans was not the only exception.


And back to Chief Seattle (quoting Wayne Dyer from his Wisdom of the Ages) best known as the man who wrote a now-famous letter to the President of the United States, asking him to consider American Indians’ point of view. Every part of the earth is sacred to his people, he wrote, and we are all part of the precious earth, as well as being brothers in spirit.


Chief Seattle asks us to increase our awareness of the soft sounds and the sweet smells of life. In so doing, we will treat our environment with greater respect not only for its natural beauty, but because we become aware that we are a part of this interconnected web of life. We all share the same breath, the animals, the trees, and one another. Whatever be your nationality or inclination, as long as football (er soccer) is your passion and humanity your religion it does not matter who wins come Sunday, mankind wins. Hail Chief!

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