When Fuβball gets real: Experiencing the World Cup in Germany

With the world cup upon us, I thought it would be fun to reflect on the first time I really got excited about the soccer when I was in Germany back during the 2010 games in South Africa. At the time, I was still serving in my first assigned area, the beautiful city of Münster. Münster is NOT the origin of Münster cheese but has a rich history and culture of its own. Münster was the center of an Anabaptist rebellion back in the 16th century. The Anabaptists believed that you should only be baptized when you developed faith in Christ. With that kind of background, it seemed like a really neat city to start out in as a Mormon missionary. The rebellion didn’t last long: just ask the men incarcerated in the cages at the top of the Lambertikirche. OK, the bones aren’t there anymore, but the cages still hang there to this day. Today, Münster has a beautiful pedestrian city center despite over 60% of it being bombed during World War II, extensive biking paths and a reputation as the biking capital our Europe, and a large student population.

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My trainer, Elder C, was called away up to the cold frigid north, while I remained to hold down the fort. I was feeling tense, like I had the world on my shoulders. I was just starting to feel semi-confident with my German– and especially fluent in the many swears and expressions of disinterest that we got as missionaries. I was anxious of forging a new relationship with a companion, and I just knew I was going to miss Elder C.

My new companion, Elder I, was fairly laid back, and the start of the World Cup had gotten him stoked! He would be leaving in two transfers (3 months), and he was going to be able to catch the majority of the games while he was still here in Germany. We went shopping a few times to get him a jersey from the German team, a scarf, and a German flag! I was more keen on journaling my memories, and I was able to find a few entries from the games I remembered. Here are a few:

June 14: Things didn’t go well after church. We didn’t have any appointments. Why? Germany was playing Australia! We couldn’t really go do doors. The streets were wild all night– cars honking, people yelling. And why shouldn’t they? Germany won 4-0! Elder I. and I took chose to use the tine to study instead. We justified it, since our P-day is cut short three hours tomorrow.

I had never thought people could get that excited for soccer! Back home, soccer was just another sport. I hadn’t even seen football fans get so crazy that the streets were blocked. Germans would erect large TVs and speaker systems in public squares and street corners, called “Public Viewings” to watch the games too, so everywhere you went, it was hard to miss, even as a missionary restricted from television and internet.

June 18: Heute war… Deutschland gegen Serbien! Jeder war sehr begeistert. Wir mussten fur Frau G einkaufen gehen, aber die Strassen war so beschaeftigt. Es gabe viele Leute mit Deutschen Fahnen als “capes.” Ich wuenschte dafuer, dass ich so eins haette. Es ist sehr toll. Ich muss eine finden! Leider Deutschland verlor. Ja, dieser kleine Land gewann gegen Deutschland! ACK!

[Today was… Germany versus Serbia! Everyone was so excited. We had to go shopping for Frau G, but the streets were so busy. There were so many people wearing German flags as capes. I wish I had one like that. They’re great. I have to find one! Unfortunately, Germany lost. This tiny country beat Germany! ACK!]

June 27: We had the opportunity to grill with Bruder K. He drove us out to Nordwalde– he is a REALLY fast driver; he doubled the speed limit most of the time… We watched part of the game with him and his family, but we really had to leave because we shouldn’t be doing that. But funnily enough, the driver of the train announced updates as we went along. Happily, Germany beat England 4-1. Everyone was happy. And loud.

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I finally did get a German flag that I could wear as a cape (but only indoors, of course. Had to keep it top secret, like Superman). Too bad I was to be sorely disappointed!

July 7: Back at the apartment, I wore my red pants and German flag to support Germany. They lost 1-0 to Spain. ACK! They were doing so well too! I thought it would be SO COOL if they won while I was on my mission.

I still remember being out on the streets that night when Germany lost. There were fans from both sides, and I saw the proud fans of Spain waiving there flags at passing cars. That was probably the most disappointment I’ve ever felt for a sporting event. I usually don’t get emotionally invested, but being a missionary had made me really proud of Germany. I still am to this day.

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Looking through my photo albums, I was disappointed that I didn’t have a picture of me with my German flag-cape! I had to make do with pencilling one in with paint.

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