Patriotism – What Football Teaches Us by Alffie


Patriotism is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime – Adlai E. Stevenson

Patriotism is a virtue and an admirable quality in most cases but certainly not in all cases, especially when it employs emotion without the involvement of logic.

When the Uganda Cranes came to town (Nairobi) for a match up against Kenya’s very own Harambee Stars, I could not help but marvel at the dedication of the Uganda Cranes fans who made their way to Nairobi in droves to support their team!

This made me think about how much sports (focus on football or soccer for the Americans) paints a picture of patriotism that a lot of other things could even wish to. So I sought out to get other examples of unique expression of “loyalty” to football teams – clubs of national teams – that could be translated to be expressions of patriotism… and some that are not!

Let me start with the Positives.

ARSENAL (ORLANDO PIRATES by extension)

If you are ashamed to stand by your colors, you had better seek another flag – Author Unknown

These two clubs know what it means by being really good and worth winning a number of times but never really getting it! All the while, the fans exhibit such loyalty and hope that the next time round they will win but… for Arsenal, it’s been 5-6 yrs and still nothing.

You think that’s bad?

Well Orlando Pirates, famous and popular as they are in South Africa, had not won anything in ten years!! WOW! That’s a long time! It consoles Arsenal fans I’m sure to know faith can last that long!!

Orlando Pirates Fans

Lesson: The point here, however is patriotism has a lot to do with loyalty and these fans certainly know loyalty!

AC MILAN AND INTER MILAN

For those who might not be aware, these two great Italian teams share a stadium-the famously known San Siro. And all this time, most of the time at least, the fans of either side have exhibited maturity in keeping their rivalry a pitch affair. Sure there are times emotions run high but they understand that their love for the game supersedes mere emotions.

Lesson: Patriotism also bears with it a sense of consideration to your fellow man with which you share your country.

INTER MILAN (MARIGA)

The MacDonald Mariga, who for obvious reasons has been dubbed “UAP”, joined Inter Milan, in classic Kenyan fashion,matatus went to have body art aka graffiti with number “17” on them and Inter Milan’s number “17 Mariga” was being adorned by every Tom, Dick and Mustapha as a sign of pride in Kenya’s own! It’s not so much Mariga being a Nerazzurri (Inter Milan player) as it is him being Kenyan which goes on to say that if he joined Germany’s Borussia Dortmund, the famous Dortmund Yellow (luminous green) and black will fill the Kenyan streets.

Lesson: Patriotism is stick-to-it-iveness i.e. through hell or high water, recognition or nearing obscurity you remain proud of your own (as long as they are on the right track)

GOR MAHIA

Patriotism is the virtue of the vicious – Oscar Wilde

These are PASSIONATE fans right here! It’s been a while since winning but being the most successful club in the country gives them a voice. In the recent past, K’ogalo and its faithful have raised the bar in football support most notably being their merchandising. Being predominantly of the ‘proud’ community, I hear, adorning ‘fake’ Gor Mahia gear might get you “uprooted” like the railway in Kibera! This dedication and sense of ‘pride’ definitely makes the brand spread and be more authentic.

Lesson: Patriotism is having a sense of pride in one’s own identity so much so coming across the adulteration & corruption of the same by whoever is “enraging” & unacceptable to you.

UGANDA CRANES

The love of one’s country is a splendid thing. But why should love stop at the border? – Pablo Casals

The Uganda cranes fans in Nairobi would have made think there was a migration of some sought! They came in and made their presence known – Nairobi was all yellow, red and black!! They definitely exemplified love for one’s country beyond one’s own borders – even in “enemy” territory.

I must say I love their Uganda Cranes Anthem. Listen here Uganda Cranes anthem is NICE!!

Lesson: Patriotism is love for your country & your own even in a foreign land. Caution however should be applied where necessary!

GHANA

Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all others because you were born in it – George Bernard Shaw

When Ghana gave Africa hope of being the first African country to make it to the World cup Semi finals, in the face of impossibility, the whole of Africa was behind them. This loyalty however was not born out of ability but more of loyalty to “brotherhood”.

Lesson: Being Patriotic is sometimes like being a romantic; a person in whom logic plays no part of. I should note this is a dangerous form of patriotism but patriotism nonetheless!

CHELSEA

Patriotism knows neither latitude nor longitude. It is not climatic – E.A. Storrs

I’m willing to bet that upwards of 60% of current Chelsea fans were not Chelsea fans 10 years ago! Reason being they for the most part support a team because they win albeit by hook or crook. I’m not saying this is how Chelsea wins but I’m saying Chelsea fans can never be as resilient as Arsenal or Manchester United fans are. They’ll stick with Chelsea as long as they win. If and when they lose, they WILL jump ship!

Lesson: Patriotism is not a matter of convenience; love your country when it’s all good and when it’s bad, strive to make it better.

GENERAL

A lot of fans always seek to demean the other teams when they win as opposed to praising their own! When you win, praise your own, love your own. What is to you that the other team did not win?!

Lesson: Patriotism is when love of your own people comes first; nationalism, when hate for people other than your own comes first – Charles de Gaulle

If you have not got anything from this post, there’s something missing…in you but just to give you a shadow of doubt, I leave you with these:

I think patriotism is like charity – it begins at home – Henry James

It is lamentable, that to be a good patriot one must become the enemy of the rest of mankind – Voltaire

 

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2 Comments

  1. I will always remember when Jason Dunford answered questions from journalists in Swahili after breaking the Olympic record (that was broken seven minutes later). I felt so patriotic.

    Reply
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