Ciaran, Lisbon and Football

© Moira G. Gallaga

Escola de Futebol Benfica at Estadio da Luz

Today was Ciaran’s first day at the Escola de Futebol Benfica Geração’s Summer Camp at the Estadio da Luz in Benfica, Lisbon. Both Bing and I have been pretty excited about this ever since we got here in Lisbon.

Bing and I are huge football fans and kind of blessed that Ciaran has taken to the game as well. Ciaran started playing since he was 5 yrs old, joining clinics while on our first posting in Los Angeles. It wasn’t until our cross-posting to the Embassy in Washington D.C. when Ciaran turned 6 that he got involved more regularly in the game through the Vienna Youth Soccer (VYS) Club in Vienna, Virginia.

By age 8 Ciaran made it to the VYS Travel Team of his age group and began receiving more advanced training. One of his trainers there was Fabian Lewis who is currently playing for Kaya FC in the UFL. In the Philippines, Ciaran played for the varsity football team of La Salle Greenhills.

So we now find ourselves in Lisbon and Benfica FC’s football school beckons. He spends the next 6 weeks at the Escola from Mondays to Fridays, 0900H to 1800H.

As for Bing, he was late for work for the first time since arriving here a month ago as he opted to hang around to try and watch them get started. He didn’t get a chance and had to rush to the office. I was laughing when they kept the parents away from the training ground. You drop off your kid and say goodbye, come back when they are done at 6pm. Bing wasn’t amused when I commented that Benfica FC obviously knew what they were doing by instituting such a policy.

At the end of the day, my little boy is back from the camp. He was tired but was happy and pleased. That’s the most important part of all, that sign of contentment and joy in your child. Of course, every parent expects a lot from their kids, and we do as well for Ciaran. But over and above that, it’s the child’s happiness that counts.

So here we are in Lisbon, another chapter of our lives in the Foreign Service unfolding, with new adventures and discoveries awaiting us. As always, football is always there as it has always been for a major part of our lives wherever we end up. For Ciaran, an opportunity has been laid before him. How far he takes this opportunity and how much of his chances he will take, well, that is up to him now.

01 July 2013

Soccer – Spiritual Activity

© Moira G. Gallaga

Soccer is a game that evokes a lot of passion, for its legions of followers (that includes me) it is more than just a game but also a part of culture and to certain degrees, a way of life. There’s nothing like watching a game live where the people are very passionate about the game and their teams. That’s why when I found myself in the following countries – Madrid (3x), Sevilla (2007), Russia (1997), Portugal (2007), Switzerland (2007), Germany (2000), Rome, Singapore (1993), Argentina (1999), Chile (2000, 2004), Mexico (1997, 2002, 2004), World Cup 2002 in Japan, etc. I took the opportunity to squeeze in time for a live soccer match to enjoy high quality soccer and revel in the spectacle and pleasantly intoxicating atmosphere of the stadium. So here’s a modest expression of my feelings about the world’s most beautiful game:

It is not just a game;

It is an expression of life.

It is sweat, pain, struggle, and suffering;

It is grace, unity of effort, creativity, and beauty.

It is triumph and it is defeat.

It is community and family.

It is sadness and it is joy.

It brings out the best, shining and aglow;

It sometimes brings out the worst, violent and cruel.

For all our differences, our varieties, and incompatibilities,

It brings us all together,

One heaving, chanting mass of humanity,

Celebrating life, celebrating artistry in motion,

Celebrating soccer football.

Heart rate data from a male Aston Villa fan during the first and, as a Villa fan, rather torturous, half of the game at Villa Park against Newcastle United in 2008. Study conducted by Social Issues Research Center (SIRC) based in Oxford, UK.
Percentage agreement concerning comparison between football and religion. The most religious in this sense are the Portuguese fans, followed by the Belgians and Norwegians. Study Conducted by Social Issues Research Center (SIRC) in Oxford, UK.

Live match at Estadio da Luz, Portugal
Live match at Estadio da Luz, Lisboa

13 August 2011