Of female football fans – and gawking at shirtless Ronaldo’s six pack!

The Housewife

The UEFA Euro 2016 kicks off tonight and the housewife is super excited … this and the already ongoing COPA 2016 … it's going to be a month long feast of great football.

My love for football dates back to the time I was a young girl running barefoot in the streets of Magwegwe each time Highlanders won a match. We could never go and watch the games live but almost every household in the suburb, and I presume in every other suburb in the city, would have their radio switched on to the then Radio 2 for the live commentary of the game.

The football announcers were and are still some of the best story tellers I have ever encountered. They would recount every moment with detail and had the ability to bring life into their commentary.

The whole suburb would erupt into cheers whenever our team scored and on the days Highlanders won there was a tradition of the ‘emergency taxis’ popularly known as ‘Umtshovha’ (and those days it was the Peugeot 404s) to hoot all the way from Barbourfields Stadium through Mzilikazi to Mpopoma to Magwegwe and beyond.

And it would be during the lag through our suburb that me and my friends and other children my age would run alongside the main road cheering Highlanders. Lovemore Majaivana’s Tshilamoya would be blasting through the stereos. At that moment, nothing else mattered.

And so my love for the World’s greatest sport began.

Not only do l love football ... I understand it, rules and all and as I grow older Highlanders remains my first love.  I also love Mamelodi Sundowns in South Africa, Liverpool in the English League and Real Madrid in the Spanish League.

I am one of the millions of women who genuinely and passionately love the sport, which is why I can never understand how men and some women view with contempt our love for football.

Sexism is built into the sport and any woman who shows love for the game is perceived as superficial and shallow when it comes to the game. We know the game as well as the men but some assume we love the sport because of our partners; nothing could be further from the truth. My love for football goes beyond the 90 minute matches we watch.

Football is the most consistently played sport in the world and has the ability to gather the world into one big party. Football crosses all geographic, ethnic, racial, class, laungage and religious boundaries. It gives us the opportunity to enjoy the sport together despite what separates us as people.

The game creates great debates and great fun with fans always trying to find out whose team is superior. Pre-season or pre-tournament debates are always on the fans’ big expectations and how their teams will thrash all. The debates and discussions can be so heated; those who don't understand the sport and the fan dynamics and passion involved can be forgiven for thinking the parties involved are sworn enemies. We switch from being fans, to ‘what I would do if I was the coach’ and to being analysts all in one game and post-match.

The Loyalty we exhibit as fans to our teams, both club and national can only be surpassed by a dog’s loyalty to its master. Even if our team has a horrible game or season we don't change teams (not that when it comes to national teams we really have a choice). We will always support that team and every new year strongly believe is the year we will collect that silverware that has eluded us for time immemorial.

The 90 minute games are the most emotive experience one can ever go through. Every soccer fan will tell you of the emotional roller coaster we go through during the games. We all start on a high as we have big expectations for our teams. The atmosphere in the stadiums is electric and with regards to tournaments involving countries the singing of the national anthems is emotional and an instant reminder of national pride at stake. At Club level nothing beats the atmosphere at Anfield stadium as Liverpool fans and players belt out You Never Walk Alone.

Our emotions, depending on how our team is performing, can either be high or low, triumph or despair, thrills or tears. The celebrations after a goal is scored or the sighs when opportunities are missed. It is usually 90 minutes of non-stop action with the fans standing and chanting.

The regalia worn by the fans makes for a good spectacle. One can never forget the spectacle provided by South African fans during the 2010 World Cup - the oversized goggles, the miners’ helmets, the long, colourful church robes, Afro wigs sprayed in national flag colours and who can ever forget the Vuvuzelas.

It's also an emotional spectacle when at the end of the game fans of the losing team look dejected, dispirited and sit with shoulders slumped almost paralyzed and not moving and with a look of shock for others while some just look sad or cry. The winning team fans on the other hand usually break into song, stand up or jump up and down in jubilation. The emotions exhibited on the stands by fans usually mirrors the ones the players go through as well.

It's always pulsating watching the men in action. The display of the spirit of teamwork, sportsmanship and professionalism; the hunger to score goals and the frustrations visible on their faces on missed opportunities.

I will confess; I am one of those women that gawk at the attractive, well-toned and sculptured bodies of football players … and no it does not make me less of a fan … their hairstyles too are also a show on their own.

I even have a list of my own top five sexiest players at this Euro 2016 led by none other Cristiano Ronaldo and I have no intentions of missing any of the goals he will score during the tournament for he is in the habit of taking off his shirt when celebrating his goals, revealing a six pack that many can only ever dream of having.

I love football because it is one sport with the most rags-to-riches stories. It doesn't matter where on is from as long as one is talented and has skills and is willing to work hard, one is rewarded.

Footballers Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are ranked third and fourth respectively in the Forbes list of World’s highest paid athletes; that's behind Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao both boxers.

And, as a mother, my prayers always include “Lord bless my sons with strong legs that will enable them to play football … not just mediocre football Lord, but to be able to play in the same league or even surpass the likes of Messi and Ronaldo......”

I have friends and also know of women who have declared themselves football widows and are miserable as their partners spend hours on end either glued to the television or gone to the pub or stadium to watch a game. Unless you genuinely loathe the sport, there is no harm in joining us to watch this game.

And don't be intimidated into thinking the rules are complicated … most of us are soccer moms and if you can follow the goings on during the school game, you will easily follow the professional league.

Being a football fan as a female doesn't require you to know the statistics. Some men are in the habit of asking for specific detail and statistics just to put us on the spot. Don't let that deter you; ask them to google - you are not a moving football encyclopedia. And if you don't know which team to support, always root for the underdogs … you will be surprised at the emotions you experience in that 90 minutes.

And before you know it you will also be a football fan and will also understand why football is called a beautiful game!


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Denis Gwenzi
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Patience Duncan Dubai (UAE)
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