my induction to the national sport

This weekend we took the boys to the soccer stadium to see their first professional soccer game. While Nine gets excited about participating in a day-long chess tournament (he placed second at his last one), Six lives for the two days a week he has soccer practice, in addition to the heated soccer games at recess between the first and second grades, and for the past two months he has been mentioning that he’d like to go to a soccer game.

So Monday evening we walked over to the stadium to watch our city’s team play. Our team is not in the European Champions League but is still pretty decent (we won!) and plays in Italy’s the next highest league. But while Six supports our local team because, as he will tell you himself, he was born here, he has already chosen his favorite premier league team.

This is kind of a big deal in Italy. Once an Italian picks his team, that’s it. He sticks with it for life. He can cheat on all the women he wants, but if has any integrity he will never stray from his team, not even after a long losing streak. Especially not then!

Six has chosen Juventus, a popular team based in Turin. I don’t know how or why, but it could very well have something to do with his sticker album.

The sticker album… Not a day goes by that Six does not ask me to take him to the newspaper stand where he can buy, for the bargain price of sixty cents, a packet of five stickers, each featuring the picture of a Champions League player in his jersey, along with basic team and player stats. The American equivalent would be the baseball card, except that the stickers go into a special album that he carries with him, studies first thing in the morning, last thing at night, and during most of his meals at home.

When he gets a new packet, we must rush home so he can rip it open, examine the stickers, line them up, and take each one, flip through to the appropriate team page, then peel the sticker off its backing and carefully place it in the right spot. He takes the duplicates to school to trade with his friends. Once completed, he will have the complete collection of all the players on every Champions League team, but only for this season.

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About Jennifer

I'm a freelance translator and American expat. I live in Northern Italy with my two young sons.
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