Things are winding down, in four weeks I’ll be in the U.S. In the past week I’ve been to two football (soccer??) matches (games??) at Voronezh’s stadium to support the Voronezh team, Fakel. Fakel means torch. The first game I went to was last Saturday, when Fakel was playing a team from Moscow. We were a little bit worried about how it would be, due to one of those May thunderstorms, but luckily it only drizzled for ten minutes in the second half. Though our team came pretty close to scoring a few times it didn’t really work out, and the final score was 0:0.
Tuesday’s game was a little bit more exciting, goal-wise. On Tuesday Fakel played Baltica, from Kaliningrad. We ended up losing 2:3, but it seemed like it was going to be close a few times, and there were some bad calls by the refs. The stakes were a little bit higher on Tuesday because both teams were fighting to keep their rankings..towards the bottom of the First Division League. So it was really too bad that we lost, because now Fakel is 18th out of 20. : (
Still, going to matches is more about the atmosphere than it is about the sport itself. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not really a diehard sports fan (though I can, on occasion, proudly root for the Dodgers and the Lakers), but I do love people watching, which is fantastic at these matches. Some of my Russian friends were surprised that I had gone at all, because most spectators are a) male and b) imbibing a ton, and the few women are usually youngish girlfriends/wives who are being good sports for their men. While the match especially on Tuesday got pretty exciting, I also just love hearing the commentary among the Fakel fans (who are all die-hard fans actually) and the, uh, shall we say, colorful expressions used. There’s also a ton of chanting and group cheering that goes on, like “For Voronezh, for victory,” “we need a goal,” “onwards, Voronezh,” and other less printable slogans for when the refs made a bad call. I do like rooting for a team, so.
Maybe the greatest thing is the special fan group called “The Ultras” that have a special section in the stadium and who perform synchronized chants, cheers, and hand motions throughout the whole game. Imagine a group of men not wearing shirts and singing and jumping around for their team. It’s incredible. Even better was on Saturday when the fan group from the Moscow team was also present: every few minutes there would be kind of a cheering war back and forth, as the Torpedo fans and the Fakel fans tried to be more vocal for their respective teams. A few times, when the cheering war started to verge on antagonistic, one of the groups would start a new chant: “Русские вперед!” – Onwards (forward? ahead?) Russians! This would go on for a few minutes, with both sides shouting this at each other, until everyone broke into applause. I really like that, it’s this reminder that although your team might not be the best, and might be suffering a terrible defeat, in the end everyone’s on the same team.. the Russian team.
Other than starting this new phase as a football fan, I’ve been mostly finishing up classes and figuring out what traveling I’m going to do in this last month. The last month! Ah.
Today I also re-watched the Woody Allen classic Love and Death, which is a parody of 19th century Russian everything. I don’t know if it’s because I haven’t watched it in a long time, or maybe because I’ve been living in Russia, but in the first five minutes I was crying from laughing too hard. All my other ETAs, if you haven’t watched it you should immediately, I think it’s on youtube. I’ll leave you with one of my favorite exchanges, between Boris (our hero) and his father:
Father: Remember that nice boy next door, Raskolnikov?
Father: He killed two ladies.
Boris: What a nasty story.
Father: Bobak told it to me. He heard it from one of the Karamazov brothers.
Boris: He must have been possessed.
Father: Well, he was a raw youth.
Boris: Raw youth, he was an idiot!
Father: He acted assaulted and injured.
Boris: I heard he was a gambler.
Father: You know, he could be your double!
Boris: Really, how novel.
(AHH how many references is that? More than I even thought at first – 10?? Even if you’re groaning because it’s too punny it’s so great. Watch it. Now.)