BARCELONA, JOHN

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Barcelona. John. De Maisonneuve/Wilson, Montreal, 2014

Why Barca? I asked.

“I hate Barcelona. My club is Chelsea.”

In front of a local carwash, this Labour day early morning, John and his two colleagues were waiting for the first customers to arrive. As I passed by I just said “Nice shirt” with my thumbs up. “No, not really.” he replied to my surprise. After he told me that Chelsea is his team I asked, obviously, why Chelsea. “Anybody can play in Chelsea… black, white, you can be green, anybody. Not in Barcelona.” He got this jersey from someone as a gift.

John’s been living in Montreal for a few years now. He comes from South Africa.


BARCELONA, ZAKARIA

Barcelona. Zakaria. Circle/Queen Mary, Montreal, 2013

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.


BARCELONA, SEIF

Barcelona. Seif. Queen Mary/Westbury, Montreal, 2013

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.


BARCELONA, DIDIER

Barcelona. Didier. St. Catherine/Jeanne Mance, Montreal, 2012

Why Barcelona? I asked.

“Spain.”

He is a huge fan of Spanish football. And with a reason. Spain currently holds European championship at U-19, U-21 and also, as everyone knows now,  Spain is the Champion of Europe. I met Didier a few days before the finals and he knew even then. He had no doubts that Spain will win, again. Didier was born in Montreal and still lives here. His parents came form Belgium and Haiti. During our short meeting, his enthusiasm for the shirt he was wearing, his good looks and the body language as he spoke about Barcelona reminded me of this commercial. Meeting Didier was fun.

Barcelona. Didier. St. Catherine/Jeanne Mance, Montreal, 2012


BARCELONA, TOMISLAV

Barcelona. Tomislav. Hodovo village, Herzegovina, 2011

Why Barcelona? I asked.

“It’s my favourite team since I was a kid.”

Hodovo is a small village in Herzegovina, near the town of Stolac, not too far away from the city of Mostar which is about two hours drive from Sarajevo. My friend and I were in search of medieval cemeteries (another project) and had to return back from the desired destination since we faced the mine fields (Picture 1). Then, it is fair to say, in the landscape that is, by all accounts, in the middle of nowhere (Picture 2), by the road I saw a group of kids playing the beautiful game. On a brand new concrete surface (Picture 3), with nets, a tall fellow was wearing Barcelona shirt. I stopped the car, naturally. Our conversation didn’t go far but, regardless, I was very happy. There was something magical in seeing these kids running after the ball. Since this is a remote post in a rush, from far away, from Bosnia and Herzegovina (which will beat France tonight and qualify for the Euro), I include a few more pictures that give the idea (but not much more than the idea) of where all of this took place.

Mine fields (Picture 1)

Landscape (Picture 2)

Soccer field (Picture 3)


BARCELONA, BEN

Barcelona. Ben. St. Catherine/Towers, Montreal, 2011

Why Barca? I asked.

“Actually I’m a Liverpool fan, but I collect jerseys.”

It’s nice to see Barcelona shirt with, now retired, Unicef logo. Ben lives in Montreal but comes from London, England. No London club could steal his heart as he grew up with a healthy doze of John Barnes, Ian Rush and company from Liverpool. He has in his collection every England jersey he could get his hand on.


BARCELONA, THEO

Barcelona. Theo. St. Catherine/St. Mathieu, Montreal 2011

“Why Barca?” I asked.

“Because they are the best team in the world right now.”

It’s not surprising that one of the first footballists I met is a Barcelona fan, considering the popularity of a currently dominating team in the World. Theo was running down the street with a friend when I jumped in front of him and quickly asked for a picture. He was kind enough to stop for a minute, before running away. He was gone and most probably I’ll never see him again, just as we’ll never again see a Barcelona player wearing a shirt with Unicef logo.