It doesn’t matter if you’re lacking in eye-hand coordination or are not competitive by nature, because Intrepid’s Jo Stewart discovered that watching the local game in Morocco can be a winning real life experience…
“The advent of air travel, growth of technology and evolution of infrastructure means we’re all more mobile than ever, crossing time zones with ease, skipping across oceans like stones. Sometimes, this hyper mobility is a blessing (you can be in another continent so fast); other times it can be a curse (you can leave a country without ever feeling connected to it). Well, want to get under the skin of a country? I’ve found that one of the best ways to uncover a nation’s psyche is through sport.
Attending a local sporting match reveals rituals (like the Mexican wave at the cricket), regional cuisine (hot dogs and beers all round!), local language (sometimes colourful) and traditional costume (who could resist buying a giant foam finger while at a baseball match?).
Recently I was lucky enough to see the city of Marrakech reach fever pitch during an Africa Cup qualifier match. Like many other African nations, football (or soccer) is worshipped, played and followed with serious intensity. And this wave of patriotism didn’t just last for the length of the match. It started days before, and continued days after. Who knows, Morocco could still be basking in its post-win glory right now?
Cars, vans, motorcycles, donkeys and kids on roller skates filled the streets, chanting, singing, laughing and dancing. Flags were draped out of every car window, shop front and home, as the city whipped itself into a wild frenzy of pride, elation and extreme happiness. Although tickets to the match were booked out long before I was in Morocco, it was fun to watch it on the television in the hotel lobby bar and to walk the streets, absorbing the electric atmosphere and witnessing the deafening celebrations that featured men, women, children, elderly people, travellers, locals and even animals.
So no matter where you are in the world, I wholeheartedly recommend getting amongst it at a local sporting match to reveal the true essence of a culture or city. Whether you’re watching masked men writhe about in the Lucha Libre wrestling of Mexico, sitting around a crowded neighbourhood cafe in Italy watching an AC Milan match or attending a cacophonous cricket match in India, you’re guaranteed to see a genuine slice of a country which will entertain, shock, delight and probably raise your blood pressure at times!”
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* photo by Heather Farish – Intrepid Photography Competition