Why Raja Casablanca? I asked.
“Best, best, best”
The initial enthusiasm of someone who thinks he is a pinball wizard quickly deflated after a machine, accustomed to someone’s else hands, hungry swallowed my coins. With great regret I made conclusion that my magic somehow vanished (I blame digital world) so I moved to the next room where local boys were attending what looked like a serious tournament in table football. To avoid further embarrassments, I choose a little boy age seven or something to play with. I use to own one of these tables and I think I’m good in it. However, it turns that the boy is not from this planet and he puts all the balls behind my wooden goalie before I even managed my tactics. I admit, in my career of promising table football player I lived though a number of humiliating defeats. The one in a dungeon just off Rue el Fassi in Morocco’s capital Rabat is probably the worst one.
So I walked away, down the street and then left to a small alley following the irresistible smell of freshly baked bread. Like a black hole, a small bakery sucks me in. One of boys inside, Hassan is his name if I remember correctly, was wearing AC Milan shirt but as soon as he saw my camera he jumped and proudly put a green-and-white Raja Club Athletic jersey over it. Naturally, I took pictures of smiling Hassan and then followed him and one Ronaldo pushing carts with bread through the labyrinth of Rabat’s old town.
Raja Club Athletic from Casablanca, eleven times champion of Morocco, had reputation of being a people’s club for which was often more important to hide the ball and humiliate the opponent than to score goals. Many of my friends will now, with a loud sigh, think of FK Velež from Mostar in Bosnia and its legendary generation of artist players. It’s not a surprise that one of these geniuses, Vahid Halilhodžić, led Raja Club Athletic to the Moroccan title as its manager in late nineties.
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 Inter? I asked.
“I lived in Milano when Ronaldo played for Inter and I started supporting the club.”
Yes, the real Ronaldo (not that other guy) was a great player and I can see how one could become Internazionale fan in his days. Zain studies physics and coaches a hockey team for which my son plays. He proudly wears his Movember moustache. While the moustaches are temporary, this jersey has been with him for many years, which became obvious as soon as he turned his back to the camera.