I have to admit, sports and I have never been “Purrrrfect Together”. In high school I went to football games and walked around flirting with boys – oh was there a game on? First down – hut – uggh. When I was a young teacher and recruiting boys to be in my musicals, I discovered that the boys who wrestled moved well and could be taught to dance, hence, I attended wrestling matches. OK – so for two periods of my life I “went to a game, match, meet.” Beyond that – niente, nada, nothing. Then I got to Italy and discovered Calcio Mania in Pontelandolfo.
My introduction to calcio was in 2002. Italia was in the World Cup! I pretended I knew what that was – had no clue. Here is what happened.
It was a lazy afternoon in Pontelandolfo. I was sitting at the kitchen table in our apartment reading when suddenly the piazza became a cacophony of sound. The air was filled with screams, horns blaring, tears and sobs. Had terrorists bombed the Vatican? Were the beaches at Anzio breached? No, my husband calmly informed me. Italia had tied their last world cup game. That meant they were holding on to second place in their division. That couldn’t be it – second place couldn’t cause this chaos. I raced to the terrace to peer at the piazza.
A parade of almost every motorized vehicle in the village had instantaneously formed in the piazza. Horns of all pitches and rhythmes – the staccatto beep beep beep of the Ford Pronto – the tiny motorini bip bip – and the I must really live in Manhatten keep your hand pressed down on your blaring big horn whaaaaaa. A wee little boy is leaning out of the passenger window clinging to the pole supporting a full Italian flag as his father/brother roars in a circle around the fountain. Italian flags wave from almost every vehicle. A motorini whizzed by – a girl on the back with both arms raised to support the flag. It followed behind them like a Jersey shore promotional banner tailing a plane. One car has not one but four full size flags, bigger than the passengers hanging on to them, flying from each window. The cars continue to circle and circle. shrieks, screams, tears – eeks. What was it like when the allies landed? I don’t get the sports thing. Men in tight shorts touch each others butts and the homophobes think its ok. Adults visiting a foreign country paint themselves in their country’s team colors and raise angry fists in the air. Behavior considered pagan any other time becomes ritual allowable drama during high sports celebrations. The wails and beeps have been going on for 15 minutes now. When do you think they’ll get bored of and start reading a book or having caffe?
I entered my cousins house to find 6 pre-teen girls clutching each other as they stared morosely at the television. The referees are obviously favoring Korea over Italia – home court advantage and all that. Tears and angry tirades filled the room. One girl with tears streaming down her face wailed from the depth of her soul. The chilling sound had to reach around the world to that evil World Cup referee. The match was still close.
These were the emotions needed to move their team on. Oh, oh – time – they lost. I moved as far into the corner as I could because I didn’t know what emotions would erupt. Heart wrenching sobs erupted from another floor in the house and got closer as the resident 5 year old raced to find the comforting lap of his mother. His father and cousin were close behind. With anger plastered on their faces they stormed out of the house and headed out to the rural men only bar. The girls in the living room frozen in place did not speak. The wimpers and silent tears said everything.
Now that I have been introduced to the calcio world, I went to a local match on the villages’s impeccable playing field. Pontelandolfo plays in a five on five league, so the field is shorter. Makes it easier for the fans to surround the field and see every exciting moment. The enthusiasm is infectious. As you’ll see from the video, the upper promenade is packed with fans of all ages. It feels like the entire village has come together on the field of battle to press it’s warriors on. How could I not be part of that? How could I not connect with that passion? Between Nick Losardo and Jack Huber we have visuals of last weeks game. It ended in a tie!
Brava Real Five Pontelandolfo! http://www.realfivepontelandolfo.it/