Today I bleed black, red and gold. Today my national pride is kicking in. Today I join the millions of soccer fans around the world, watching the match between Germany and the Netherlands. Today I feel connected to my country, even while I’m over 5000 miles away.
Growing up in Germany, where soccer is the sport of the nation, I never really got into it. In my eyes there were 22 guys on the field, 20 of which were chasing a ball and the other two were afraid of it. I guess I deserve a yellow card for that.
On top of that, with the history of my country, showing national pride was frowned upon. When I was growing up, you hardly ever saw a German flag anywhere that wasn’t a government building. Nobody had one flying in their yard. It seemed like we had nothing to be proud of.
But all that changed a few years back, when Germany hosted the Soccer World Cup in 2006. Everywhere you looked all you could see was black, red and gold, the colors of my nation. Flags, shirts, hats, wigs and even leis, it didn’t matter, everything turned into a display of our national pride. It was something that connected us all, no matter where we came from, what social standing we had or what political believes we shared.
2010 I already lived in the USA with my husband and our son, but I stayed glued to my TV to follow the World Cup again. I’m usually not a homesick person, as I made America my home several years ago, but when I watch my countrymen unite to support our team, I wish I was there to celebrate each victory with them.
2012, the UEFA Euro Soccer Cup, and I am once again far away from all the action, the public viewing, the parties. My only connection to it all is ESPN and reading the status updates of my friends and family on Facebook.
I watched the first game Germany played by myself, while my American family was getting ready for a cookout. Nobody understood the passion I had suddenly developed for soccer and the pride that rose up inside of me when Germany finally scored in the second half.
I have watched plenty of college football games and even been to a few NASCAR races since I moved here and I witnessed how a sports event can draw people together. Even as a non-citizen I get goose bumps when the jets fly over the race track and the national anthem is sung.
As every German I learned our anthem in school but it never meant anything to me, I hardly ever even heard it.
Today it’s different. Today I have goose bumps as I watch the German national team sing along with the anthem. Today I feel proud to be German. Today I miss my country. And even though I am a quarter Dutch, today I cheer for the German team to send the Netherlands home. Today I bleed black, red and gold.