At Home & Away1 Jun 2012
With the European Championships football taking place this month, we took two very special expatriate ladies, big football fans both, one from the holders and current champions Spain and one from co-hosts Poland to share their hopes for the tournament and life following the beautiful game.
WHO ARE YOU?
Jo Anna Jurczyga; from Warsaw - supports Poland and the family club – has been in Kuala Lumpur for “God knows how many years”.
This month, when Poland and Ukraine play host to Europe’s best footballers, we will all be cheering on our countries, willing them to bring home the glory of the Henri Delauney trophy. Here in Malaysia, two football-mad expatriate ladies will be eagerly cheering their sides on.
Kuala Lumpur is over 10,000 miles from where the football takes place, but it was on a typically warm, sunny day in the Malaysian capital where we caught up with Cecelia Rodas and Jo Anna Jurczyga to chat about the forthcoming tournament and their favourite foot-balling moments.
For Spanish football fan Cecilia, there is no doubt that La Roja will still dominate the competition. “We have the best players in the world. With Xavi, Busquets, or Villa, how can the other teams compete?”
On the other hand, for Polish Jo Anna, her only hope is to try not to be too ridiculous. “Long gone are the days when Poland could face major teams. 1974 and Tomaszewski, the man who stopped England, are just souvenirs now.”
WHO ARE YOU?
Cecilia Rodas; from Barcelona – supports Barcelona and Spain - Batik designer - has been In Kuala Lumpur for three years.
Hailing directly from Barcelona, which she supports with all her heart, Cecilia lives for football.
“In Barcelona, with have three things. Gaudi, La Sagrada and the Camp Nou. We Catalunians breath football. The Blaugrana set the mood of the city. This year, as Madrid won La Liga, I will support La Roja.”
For Jo Anna, the story is the same, yet different.
“I don’t come from such a big city as Barcelona with such a famous club. However, my family owns a football club back in Poland. Football is a religion! On game day, there was no way you could escape the pilgrimage to Warsaw stadium. My father still hasn’t realized that he had a daughter and not a son who could pursue a professional football career.”
Since she moved to Kuala Lumpur with her husband three years ago, Cecilia can be seen in Changkat Bukit Bintang, supporting her team. “I get up at three o’clock in the morning, drive to town from Mont Kiara, and watch the game in Pinchos. I have to do that, as my husband got fed up with me and my screams waking him up in the middle of the night.”
Although not quite such a diehard fan, Jo Anna still makes a point of watching the important games.
“Mind you, what I like the most, is the communion with other fans. Football almost becomes secondary. I still remember when Finnegan’s in Bangsar was at its prime, the crowd spilling out on the sidewalk and the crazy yet gentle atmosphere that prevailed.”
“The fans here are unbelievable, explains Cecilia. When I am asked where I am from, I say Spain. But then, I say Barcelona. It’s amazing the reactions I get! One day, one young man gave me the list of all the players in the team! He didn’t miss one! I find that completely amazing 10,000 km away.”
“Well, I don’t get that here. Who knows about the Polish team? The English fans may remember Jan ‘Tomek’ Tomaszewski for his performance against England, in a qualifying match for the 1974 World Cup, which England needed to win.
He managed to save all but one goals and denied the qualification of the Lions Team to the finals. Today, the only famous Polish players don’t even play for Poland. Lukas Podolski, or Miroslav Klose, both decided to play for Germany. “
For both ladies, football is not just a sport. It’s a religion, a way of life, but mostly a moment and a passion to share with everybody.
“Club football in Spain can be pretty violent, amongst the fans. But when it comes to the national team, everybody forgets where they are from and supports the team!”
For Jo Anna, the Euro2012 has a particularly poignant flavour. “Ukraine and Poland have had many years of troubled relationships. Politically and diplomatically, seeing our two countries come together is a major step forward, even if it will not fix everything.”
Also check out:
(1) The 11 best bars and pubs to catch the action from the European Championships 2012.
(2) Five must-see matches from the European Championships 2012.