That football feeling
I love football because it causes an otherwise apathetic young male generation to display emotion. It's one of the few times I see them get passionate and make an effort to express the way they feel both in actions and words.
Football is heart business - both for the players and the spectators. Which is why it breaks my heart when matches are dead.
Friday night's World Cup Qualifier against Panama in the National Stadium was dead. In contrast, the FLOW Super Cup in the same venue, the very next day, was anything but.
It bothers me. Panama had a full party stand going on. Start to finish, what looked to me like 350 Panamanians completely outcheered the entire National Stadium. How? Why?
Football has lost that enthusiastic crowd. Part of the fun of attending games is that win, lose or draw, people come out to have a good time.
I share a similar sentiment about the mound at Sabina. No matter the whupping the West Indies get, as long as there's music and liquor and fun people around, all is well. And we cheer on the Windies, no matter the score.
At Super Cup, even after a 4-0 trouncing, Jamaica College fans had fun. They cheered their team to the end and walked away glad that they came, irrespective of the scoreline.
What's happening with the Reggae Boyz support?
Maybe we need to bring back Reggae Tiger? (I actually think he was part of the good goozum of '98). Perhaps we need another stab at the Reggae Girls cheerleading squad.
Maybe the sponsors who pour money into football can up their spectator engagement and do more to enhance the fun factor at the games. We need something to invigorate the crowd other than the football - especially since the performance on the field is unpredictable.
I keep it real. I know very little about football. I don't know who is a striker or anything about the playing formations or anything about silly mid-off (wait, that maybe cricket). I clap when everybody claps and cuss when everybody cusses like a good little wagonist.
I cheer the loudest for the offside goals and have no idea what earns a player a card. But I am there, every match, praying that my beloved Reggae Boyz emerge victorious and rooting them on.
In minute 42 when Cooper scored the first goal for Panama, the already hushed Jamaican crowd fell deathly silent. Our collective voices never recovered.
One of the reasons I love European football is for the songs in the stadium when the teams begin to cheer. Loud and lustily, you can't help but enjoy yourself. I've been blessed enough to sit in Celtic Park and see Scottish league Celtic Football Club win against Hearts, lose to AC Milan and draw with Rangers. No match was less exciting than the other. I left all three hoarse, having sung my Celtic pride for the entire game.
I've grown to love some things about Jamaican games at the stadium. I now love the thunderous "Boom!" from the crowd in the chorus of the national anthem. I love it when a random Mexican wave breaks out in the grandstand. I love the characters that turn out in bleachers and the funny things they say. And the party atmosphere fans used to create could always soothe any result.
Jamaican football isn't the best it has ever been, but that shouldn't soften our "Go, team!" battle cry. Encouragement sweetens labour, - and if the Boyz feel our energy at each and every game, perhaps we will see better results at the end of the day.
Don't give up. Cheer on the Boyz!