I remember the 1986 Mexico World Cup vividly. Belgium, where I grew up, had made it to the World Cup and the whole nation was excited. Everyone expected Belgium to lose in the first round, but somehow we managed to make it to the second round. Futebol fever had arrived at our household. My dad and I would get up in the middle of the night and watch the games. I learned about offside and corner kicks. I also learned that the World Cup was much more than just a game. It provided a window to the world. When Belgium played against the former Soviet Union, I learned about the Cold War and international politics. Why was this game so much more important than the others? I really enjoyed these after-game conversations with my family and friends. I would also watch the live interviews with soccer players from around the world, trying to decipher the many languages, and I quickly understood the importance of learning foreign languages. Belgium did not win the World Cup that year (they placed 4th) but it definitely ignited my global mindset.
The students at Mason Korea predict that Brazil, Spain or Germany will win. I like this year’s Belgian World Cup tagline: “Expect the Impossible.” You never know who might be the next champion, but I do know that the World Cup is a great way to experience the world. I would like to invite all students, staff and faculty to attend one of the many World Cup watch parties at Fairfax, Prince William and Arlington. It is great way to mix and mingle, spread the futebol fever and learn a thing or two about soccer and the world. For more information about World Cup watch parties, go to http://worldcup.gmu.edu
Written by guest blogger, Birgit DeBeerst