This is a fantastic news for all of you Footballists fans:
Damir Šagolj, a friend, and a reporter who works for Reuters news agency and is currently based in Bangkok, Thailand, joins Footballists and will be our regular contributor. Here is his first post. Enjoy!
Why Arsenal? I asked myself.
“Because Samir brought me this shirt.”
Indeed, although it is bit awkward for one displaced Bosnian (Samir, Lodon) visiting another even more displaced (Damir, Bangkok) to have a foreign team’s shirt as the present – this one worked very well and I liked it from the first moment.
Despite supporting a wrong team back home in Sarajevo – almost an inexcusable blunder – Samir is one of my dearest friends and I would be happy if he had brought me any other shirt. Liverpool let’s say or, God forbid, Chelsea. But, he chooses the Arsenal and even had their shop at Emirates made a shirt with my name on it.
For years now, Samir has his seat just above one of the corner flags at Arsenal stadium and I get my face into the screen trying to see him every time camera stops there. I started following and cheering for Arsenal because of Samir and even that little prick RVP didn’t make me change my mind.
However, I know one day Samir and Damir will take these shirts off and put back red and blue of their Sarajevo teams, the only ones that really matter. But, for now let it be Arsenal.
Ps… this is my first post for footballists.com, one of the coolest things that exist on the Internet. I could have put my two sizes too small Zeljo shirt for it, but it should be no surprise really why I choose to have Samir mentioned in my introduction – both him and Veba, the author of this genial blog, are very similar in what they do, and how they do it. Quiet and not-pretentious and good and so smooth that all of the others, me included, should learn a big lesson from these fine gentlemen.
I live and travel mostly in Asia so I hope to bring little bit of oriental spice to the Footballists. It is my honor and commitment to be a part of it.
Why Timão? I asked.
“When I was a kid I looked at all the symbols and colors of different Sao Paolo clubs and I liked Corinthians’ best.”
And, as he added later, a few family members helped with that decision. In Sao Paolo, it could be difficult to choose with Palmeiras, São Paulo, Santos, Corinthians and probably a few other clubs existing in the same city. Kim was 5 years old when his family moved to Montreal. He works as audio/video technician in a CEGEP in Montreal. Even though Ronaldo (the original one, not the hairstyle one) was his favorite player he thinks Zidane was the best ever. I’m sure many would agree.
Why Barca? I asked.
“When you’re watching Barca play you know you’re watching real football.”
Just like Seif, who I met the same day, Zakaria comes from Algeria and is a big Barcelona fan. The encounter was brief just like the most of them, and we didn’t get to talk much, but Zakaria was all smiles and sometimes that’s all it matters.
Why Brazil? I asked.
“I bought it on e-bay. You see, it’s half black and half white, anti-racism jersey.”
I met Alex at the Mondial de la bière where he was working. I have a soft spot for people going to work in a soccer shirt. And this is not your ordinary jersey but a special Anti-Racism edition. Alex bought the one with Pelé’s name on the back. He has one with Maradona’s as well. He doesn’t follow soccer much but he ‘likes sports in general’. He told me: ‘If you want to have two soccer jerseys, what’s better than to have Pelé and Maradona.’ He does modelling and he is also an artist. As he was showing me some of his images on his phone he made an interesting observation: ‘I have these weird ideas, so I photograph them, it’s much easier than writing about them.’ His favourite colour is pink.
If I only new, back in October when I met Pelé, that I will meet Alex, I would get something signed for him.
Why Barca? I asked.
“It’s the best team in the world and they have Messi.”
I came out of the metro as he was about to go down the hole. Even though in a hurry, Seif graciously gave me a few minutes of his time. He is from Algeria but lives in Montreal and studies engineering at l’École Polytechnique. He had no doubts that Barcelona has the best team in the world and we had no time to debate.
Why Czech? I asked.
“My parents come form Czech Republic.”
Matthew is very busy, so our conversation was very brief, but he was kind enough to stop for a moment so I could take a photograph. Ne doesn’t follow soccer much, he said, but major tournaments catch his attention. Finally, I got to meet someone wearing a jersey of a team (club or national) from Eastern Europe.
Why PSG? I asked.
“That’s my home team.”
Olivier came from Paris just a few days ago to spend some time with his cousin Nicolas, and his nephew Noah. I asked if he is considering staying in Montreal and he replied, with a grin, how Nicolas is trying to talk him into it. The family dress code is obvious and Noah looks awesome in his PSG shirt. I don’t take photographs of children for this blog but, after I took photos of both Nicolas and Olivier, Noah simply stepped away from them and made it clear he expected his photo taken. I could not resist, who could?
Why PSG? I asked.
“That’s where I come from.”
What a thrill to run into a group of people, on a busy Montreal street, all wearing Paris Saint-Germain shirts as if they are going to the game to Parc des Princes. Only Parc des Princes is a few thousand kilometers away. Nicolas came to live in Montreal in 1995 but has never lost his sentiments for his team and the game. His jersey is signed by Pauleta, he told me while pointing at the signature.
Here I was standing in front of him, his son Noah and his cousin Olivier (close-up of him in the the next post) who just came to visit from France. As I was taking photos of them (in my Liverpool jersey), on a busiest street in the city, I was aware of all the strange looks from the crowd. We are strange, I though, we deserve it.
Why Gremio? I asked.
“That’s my home team.”
Today I got to face my first rejection. It was from a young man wearing Arsenal shirt. We actually had a nice chat, talked about today’s news and Sir Alex Ferguson retiring, but he would not want me to photograph him. Some future Arsenal fans, that I’ll meet, better make it up for this guy. Refusing to participate in this project brings a bad, bad luck on your club. Don’t be surprised if Arsenal doesn’t qualify for the Champions League.
Rejected, I continued my walk and as I was passing by a footwear store, I spotted a guy in a jersey shopping inside. I waited on the curb and it took a while before Otavio, and a friend (girlfriend, wife, sister… I’ll never know since I never asked), came out of the store. Conversation was brief but he was happy to stand before the camera. They are visiting from Brazil, only a couple of days to spend in Montreal, and I’m happy I was there to meet them. Here I welcome the very first Brazilian club shirt on this blog.
Why Chelsea? I asked.
“My uncle lived in England in the 80′s and became a fan. So it’s in the family now.”
Agonizingly long winter is finally over and the time has come for football/soccer fans to come out in their jerseys. So today I walked my dog, the camera in my bag, wearing my LFC shirt only. I was walking by a group of young man when one of them, wearing Impact shirt, gestured ‘thumbs down’ towards me. He was obviously commenting on my jersey so I approached him to see how could I help the poor soul. Only when I came closer I noticed he is also wearing Chelsea shorts. That explains it, I though, no help.
Born in Montreal, Nick is Chelsea fan by chance (his uncle could have fallen in love with any other club while in England) but he likes Montreal Impact too. Football identities on this continent are complicated. He went to watch Impact game, live, only once, but ‘now that they are in MLS’ he plans to go more often.