Belfast Telegraph

Home Life Weekend

Despite my lack of knowledge, I'll still get a big kick out of the World Cup

By Kerry McLean

I came home this week to find that my husband and son had made a few interior design changes to the decor in our living room. Normally that room resembles a portrait gallery in a museum, not in terms of tidiness, certainly not in terms of quiet reflection with my homegrown hoard of hoodlums, but in the sheer amount of 2D faces staring down at you.

I confess, I am a photo obsessive. I love nothing more than being surrounded by beautiful portraits of my children, my husband, my parents and my whole, huge extended family.

I long ago ran out of shelf and table space for these precious images so decided to move my pics up and on to the walls, resulting in my pride and joy, a gorgeous rogues gallery.

After work, I love nothing more than grabbing a cup of tea, a passing child for a cuddle and gazing up at my wall of memories. Except now that simple source of pleasure has been denied me! You can hardly see a single face, masked as they are by a massive World Cup 2018 wall planner and various banners and flags to mark, what I'm told, is the best sporting tournament in the world.

All I have left to gaze on now is a detailed breakdown of the teams featured across Groups A-H and a life-sized, cardboard cut-out of, '... the exact design of the football for the tournament'. It's a ball - how different really can the design be?!

Don't get me wrong though. While I lament the loss of my family's faces, I do get the excitement of the World Cup ... well, more than normal football games anyway.

There is something different about it, a hopeful feeling that for once countries might just come together in the name of sport rather than walking away in the name of politics.

It's fun to watch the antics of the fans, some of whom have travelled halfway across the world to dress up in their country's colours and sport badly smudged face paints.

I've loved the stories that came out in the run-up to the tournament, of people who have converted horse-boxes, work vans and even a motorcycle sidecar as their accommodation for the duration of their team's run, and people who drove for days on end to reach Russia in time for the kick-off.

I love that I can see that same excitement and enthusiasm writ large on the faces of my husband and son as they settle down to watch a game, so much so that I've done what little I can to ameliorate the fun for them.

Initially I attempted to 'get involved' but discussions on team tactics and manager's decisions sent me to sleep and likewise my comments on people in the crowd or a goalie's hairstyle just earned me a withering glance from my son.

My husband has long since learnt to keep those glances to himself.

What I have done is donate a kitchen cupboard to the World Cup cause for the next 30 days of the event and stocked it sky high with popcorn and crisps, chocolate and sweets, drinks and novelty straws.

I've organised a sweepstake with everyone in the family picking out three countries, so three chances to win the football money pot.

With my usual shocking lack of luck, I picked Japan, Panama and Egypt out of the hat.

My knowledge of football may be miniscule but even I know I'm unlikely to have the winning team.

In short, I don't really mind the new but definitely temporary additions to the living room walls.

My loss is massively outweighed by my love of watching my family get carried away by the events unfolding on the pitch.

I love that after exciting games my children jump outside, football in hand, to meet up with their mates and re-enact favourite moments, only coming in for a hastily gulped down bit of grub and then off again until the gloaming calls time on their game.

And I love that all over the world, children are inspired to do exactly the same, play the beautiful game and just for a few moments, live life as their sporting idols.

Belfast Telegraph

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