“This is what you would call a tea house” Mustafa explained as I followed him down a dark hallway that led to a large room. He graciously paid my cover and inside we went to find standing room only. There were no flashy lights or fancy bar stools, just rows and rows of plastic chairs filled with diehard football fans.The walls were lined with posters of their favourite national teams and the biggest stars. The match tonight was Galatasaray (Istanbul) versus Real Madrid in the quarterfinals of the Champions League. I’m not very big into football (“soccer” has never been very big in Canada), but it wasn’t difficult to guess that this was a big match.
About this time back in Canada the drive for the NHL playoffs is in high gear. I would normally gather with friends and family on the weekend (hardly never on a work night), either at a pub or someone’s house and have the chance to watch the game on a big screen TV.
We quickly found Mustafa’s friends and they had luckily saved us two seats in the back row. I was introduced, but being one of only two English speakers in the whole room, conversation pretty much concluded here. It didn’t matter though as the team were about to take to the pitch. There were two small (by Canadian standards) flat screens for over 200 hundred people jammed in to watch. Scarfs started waving, and the clapping and cheering began as we prepared for kickoff. I could feel the intense nervousness in the atmosphere.
After talking about work weeks, planned vacations, films we saw and any number of things, we had not even noticed that the puck had dropped five minutes ago. For me, going to watch a hockey game in Canada was more of social event and a chance to catch up on each others lives.
“Dört çay” (four tea) Mustafa ordered from the frantic lone waiter who was trying to fulfill the whole room’s needs. There was no beer going around, no food except for sunflower and pumpkin seeds.
Most notably, there were no women – the tea houses are for men only. Some have even brought their children, but instead of misbehaving and fooling around like most kids do, their eyes were glued to the screens with dreams of one day gracing the field with their own feet.
At half-time, and despite playing well, luck is not on the side of the visiting team from Istanbul – Real Madrid has a 2-0 lead. We went outside to get some fresh air, and for most to get in a cigarette.
Second period is over and more attention is paid to the screen to see what ridiculous outfit Don Cherry is wearing this week. Wings, nachos and other finger foods have been served. The cases of beer are almost gone and it’s decision time who is going to make a run to get some more.
The second half fares no better for the team from Istanbul and the fans are getting restless. There was yelling at the screens, smacking hands together in frustration and even sounds of spitting at the poor play. The team is down by three and now all there is hope for is just scoring a goal.
I feel the frustration. The mighty Oil are down three. Once a dynasty, now pretty much a joke. I curse like the Turkish and smack my hands at missed opportunities. I feel their pain.
I haven’t felt the sensation of sport in a while and the competitive nature it creates. It was a nice reminder, despite losing.
“You can’t come and watch anymore” Mustafa half jokes. “You were bad luck and they need to win the next match.” Looks like such superstitions are one thing we have in common.
**Feature image from Guardian.co.uk
I watched this match in Mali at an open air bar that was about half divided between Real and Galatasaray fans (normally it would be all Real, but Galatasaray has drogba now, which makes a big difference for many West African fans). Watching sport can be a lot of fun as a communal/social activity. One of the few things that can inspire collective euphoria. Of course, if your team loses, the opposite can happen….
Phil recently posted..Dancing on the Roof of Nafaji
I am starting to learn all about the passion of futbol. I don’t follow “a” team yet, but I’m getting close to picking one. It’s crazy the euphoria that ensues. Thanks Phil!
They are very passionate about soccer in Turkey. I remember watching a game in Istanbul a few years ago. It was crazy!
For sure, to the point where the Fenerbahce fans cheered for Real to win.
I love watching soccer in countries that are so passionate about it, really hoping I can catch some in South America.
Ayngelina recently posted..Dolled up for roller derby
It shouldn’t be too hard to find a match down there 🙂
I know how you feel!! We miss watching hockey as well and getting together with friends, drinking too much beer, yelling at the tv, eating snack foods and laughing at Don Cherry!
There’s not a lot of that going on here in China, no football either. Guess we could go and watch a badminton match?
Cheers for the post 🙂
ps, we won’t hold it against you that you’re Oiler fans.
Dariece – Goats On The Road recently posted..10 Reasons To Travel To Turkey
Haha, it would be cool to see all the passionate fans around a screen watching badminton.
I take a lot of heat for bleeding Oil, but I’ve stayed true to my roots and haven’t lost hope (yet).
I can’t wait to see a soccer/futbol game at some point in my life. Those fans are HARDCORE.
We managed to catch a few games in BA and it was pretty insane. I hope you get the chance, it’s quite an experience.
Soccer? Is all that was on? I woulda changed the channel. 🙂
Raymond @ Man On The Lam recently posted..Tunnel Vision: The Indoor Skydiving Experience
I would have been risking my life doing that, but when they were down by three I think a few people had that thought in mind.
I’m no sports fan myself, but what a cool local experience! Love how you compared it to its equivalent back home 🙂
Alex recently posted..A Leap of Faith: Deep Water Soloing in Thailand
Thanks Alex, it was pretty cool to sit and watch (everything).
I’m stuck on the tiny TVs – you’d think everyone in the room would chip in to get a giant screen so they could see better!
I was a bit surprised too, but it does the trick and all they need I guess.