It is true I was born with a weak frame, not for soccer, often stumbling more than I was upright. My uncles, most of whom could literally narrate the history of soccer joked I was tied to the bench as a kid, to keep my agitated playful antics from dribbling around with the soccer ball in the yard, on my knees! I may have exaggerated a bit, but if I was told years ago that I could endure the huddles and make this journey, I probably would have laughed at myself. But in the end I did it and against all odds, I made it to the heart of soccer.

Is there a place like that? As a child emerging from the abstract world of infantile make-belief and into a more disciplined and concrete age of adolescence, the soccer ball was an absolute wonder, evoking an immediate affection that was to guide me along an emotionally treacherous path to soccer “fan-ship”, a huge ship with an accommodating companionship that exudes an unbelievable fellowship akin to a fraternal kin-ship. ESPN, the American media giant in a UK advert says, “It is great to be here”. But the heart ache and physical drills of following your beloved soccer team is exceptionally steep in an upward direction. Would I be blown to pieces? After years of endless nights of crying a river for my parents and friends whenever my team loses, I became a true fan.

The day you truly become a soccer fan, look around carefully and what you see are the window panes around the heart of soccer. You are there, in “soccer-sphere”, a deep sited passion for a game that heals its wounds, unlike most other love. I am grown up now, with my kids unknowingly reminding their dad how many championships, how many leagues and how many world cups have passed, when they alter that frightening phrase, “daddy, your hair have some white!”. I simply wave aside their “aging” reminders, because to me these innocent white strands are the iconic flag of my "cerebrally" astute soccer wisdom.

The heart of soccer is purer, after years of global warming. It is fertile, accommodating a renewed opportunity after the recession and beyond all these, it is faithful to who we are. To the uninitiated, it is easy to forget that soccer fans represent an exceptional breed, obsessed with a passion that is bound-less in depth and expanse. Choking at times in defeat and exhilarating at other times in the face of conquest. For most of us we have been on both sides, in a land of sorrow and joy, each experience committing us more profoundly to carry-on with this unique self-inflicted project of self-satisfaction hinged on 22 players wearing the jerseys of our favourite teams and a pair of boots, caged within a rectangular pitch.

Only a sincere journey to the heart of soccer, a game that has shackled the imagination of a global audience in proportions well beyond the confines of sport, a religion you might say, can un-bundle the mystique that many perceive from afar. And there are communities around you that promote the vision of a true global game, bridging the gap between fans of diverse hue, so that one day you should be able to say, “It is great to be here”

About the Author | A medical expert and soccer enthusiast who has written extensively on topics related to health-care and the game of soccer. He is a member of a growing community of soccer lovers at SOKAspace.

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