Why Al-Sadd? I asked.
“I played handball for the same club.”
I had to look it up. Al-Sadd Club is a Qatari sport club, from Doha. It was established only in the 1960’s by four students who were good at football and didn’t want to join any other team, so they started their own. It was wonderful to meet Waleed who used to play handball for Al-Sadd handball team. These rare finds make this hunt much more interesting. From now on I’ll follow Al-Sadd and the Qatari league, I promise.
Why Bayern? I asked, astounded.
“Because of Ribéry, he’s our favourite player.”
I was some 50m behind them when I notice two large number 7 walking away. The whole street was shiny red. I increased my walking speed thinking of the best way to approach them, to make sure they agree to be photographed. I can’t miss this opportunity, I thought. But suddenly they stopped and started getting into the car. I had to run and by the time I managed to catch up one already had his seatbelt fastened and the other was just getting in. Mario and Samuel, father and son, were very kind to step out and pose for me. They are locals but their love of Ribéry made them Bayern Munich fans. Whatever happened to sons rebelling against their fathers and supporting the rival team?
Why Chelsea? I asked.
“I don’t know, I just like Chelsea.”
Sometimes we simply don’t know why we favour a particular team over all the others. Especially if that team is Chelsea; I would imagine it can be hard to come up with a good reason, unless one was born around Stamford Bridge. This nice fellow Eric is from Toronto though, and only visiting Montreal. When we parted I looked behind me to check if there was Torres written on his back, and it was not.
Why Mexico? I asked.
“I am Mexican.”
I spotted the shirt coming my way but wasn’t initially sure whose jersey was it. The absence of any advertisement meant it was a national team jersey but from the distance I couldn’t see the emblem well. It turned out to be the latest Mexican away shirt, simple and beautiful. When I asked Omar to spell his name for me, the routine I stick with just in case, he raised his left hand with a large ring on his middle finger which read Omar. That is as far as our exchange went since our families took off in the opposite directions down the street and we both had to run after them.
Why Željo? I asked.
“Because you told me so dad!”
I can’t fit into this shirt anymore, but I doubt I’ll ever meet anyone else walking one of these in Montreal, so I asked my daughter if she would wear it, for the camera. She kindly agreed. Back in the old days when I lived in Sarajevo I could see Željezničar‘s stadium Grbavica from my room. Up there from the 15th floor window, every second Sunday and occasionally on European Wednesday’s game, I could watch fans overtaking the streets and walking to the gates. It is a quite a different view now, here in Montreal.
Why Man United? I asked.
“I studied in England and a local friend was a supporter so I got into it as well.”
Finally a day when I had time to purposely hit the streets in search for the people in their jerseys. It was a beautiful day, perfect for showing the colors of one’s favourite team. But they were nowhere to be found. More than two hours into my walk, as the frustration was building up, finally I met the first, and the only, footballist of the day. Corey is from San Diego and only visiting Montreal. While studying in England a friend worked on his footballing innocence and got him into the Manchester United colors. Can’t blame him really.
Why Brasil? I asked.
“My name is Moreira.”
When I spotted a Brazilian shirt coming down the street I briefly debated if I should include in this series the people wearing a national team shirt. But Mr. Moreira was too good looking to let him pass by. I stopped him as he walked by me with his family. Our brief conversation revealed that Mr. Moreira lives in Montreal “at the moment”.