This is a headline I did not expect to ever use. I am not much of a sportsgal myself, whether it is as a performer or as a fan. I have never felt the extreme appeal sports seem to have to some people, and I had never thought I’d write about it in my blog. However, there is one aspect of sports that I can relate to, and that I also quite envy those more interested in it than myself – the enthusiasm.
The reason I chose to write about sports today, is that tonight the local football club in my hometown won an important match. After ten years of playing in the lower leagues, tonight they qualified to once again play in the top league. Next year, Kongsvinger Idrettslag (KIL) will be among the 16 teams competing to be the number one Norwegian football team.
Football (that is “soccer” to any Americans out there – a term I refuse to use since the American version includes way too much hands for it to be called football at all in my opinion…) is, despite our strange fondness for winter sports, the most popular sport in Norway. The fact that we have 16 teams in the top league (and five more leagues below) is actually quite impressive for a country of just 4,8 million people. The attention football gets in the media is, in my opinion, too much and very annoying. Yet, I can’t help but understand a little bit of the fascination on a day like this.
As mentioned in a previous post, Kongsvinger isn’t always the easiest place to love. It’s a small town, and even the locals can be shockingly unpatriotic. Except when it comes to football. KIL used to be the pride of the town. Before disqualifying last time, they had played in the top league for seventeen consecutive years. However, many supporters remained loyal (as good supporters are supposed to). They cried when the going got tough, and they cheered when the view looked brighter. We’ve had a couple of close calls the last few years, and tonight it was finally going to happen. The entire town seemed to gather around the team, cheering them on, making sure they had the support from the entire population in Kongsvinger behind them when they went into a match that turned out to be a thriller to the very end.
I’m not saying that the popular support is what made the team finally qualify (for instance, a little thing like three beautiful goals helped), but as I watched (yes, I watched – who would have thought) the last half of the match, I realized something. I realized why I was watching, why I cared. I don’t care about football, or for that matter any type of sports. Not really. But I do care about the emotions involved. I care about the fact that my hometown came together to support these eleven men chasing a leather ball. I care about the way it made me, and 17 000 other Kongsvingerians (I just made that up. We don’t actually even have a term. Kongsvingerians work, though) mad with joy because of this (the big picture considered) insignificant thing: our local team gets to play with the big guns again. And I absolutely don’t care about the few (but vocal) voices warning that KIL doesn’t have the economy or stamina to last more than a season.
Thus, tonight I am a Kongsvinger patriot. I sing my “Heia KIL” with equal sincerity as the rest. I even pretend to understand and like the game. Tomorrow I’ll be petrified that I wrote a blog about sports…