In two hours, Italy will kick off vs. England in the tropical rain forest city of Manaus. The game begins at midnight here. We are waiting for the minutes to tick away.
We are meeting friends at Elfo’s, a party of 10 people trying to fit into a pub that will be overflowing with fans. We were there last night for four hours with our friends from Arezzo, watching two matches (Mexico 1-0 Cameroon) and the stunning 5-1 drubbing of defending champions Spain by the effervescent Dutch team.
Jakob and Micah were both pulling hard for Holland; Jakob because he had accompanied me three years ago on a Winter Term to the Netherlands and Germany, and got to train at the KNVB, the Headquarters of Football for Holland. Micah just loves orange. Two tall young Dutch women seated on the other side of the aisle were both pleased and puzzled to see the little boy in front of them, head-to-toe in the national uniform of the Netherlands, jumping up and down with joy as Holland scored one after another in the second half.
The boys will be exhausted; with their friends from Arezzo here today, they went out to a local park to kick around the ball just before noon. Then it was time for lunch, so we met our Australian friends below the church of San Ercolano (which was actually open, for once, so Rebecca got to see inside, and inspect the late Roman sarcophagus holding the saint’s remains which is used as the altar of the church. What did the boys do in between munches? Kick the ball against the massive stone foundation blocks of the building. Then we had an end-of-season party for Micah’s team; the parents played a match vs. the kids at Don Bosco; and Jakob and Simon came down a bit later and they all played some more (3 more hours of kicking a ball).
You have to say that the game keeps them fit. They’ve almost beat the stitches out of our ball. It only has days to live.
So we have to make it for two more hours. It should be an even match. And while we like the England squad and the older boys have some loyalties to St. George from our last sabbatical in Yorkshire, we’re in Italy and we’re all blue tonight.
Well, except for Jakob. He’s cheering for both.