Why I love – and write about – football
A couple of days ago, however, I saw a reply to one of my tweets, one I had not noticed before. I had posted the link to my article to the Game Of My Life series. I occasionally translate articles for Miasanrot, but this time I tried my hand at writing my own piece. Someone had responded: “Why is a woman writing about football? Disgusting…”
Of course, the golden rule is: do not, under any circumstance, feed the trolls – but I was annoyed nonetheless. So I would like to answer the question.
I was born in Frankfurt in 1979 to an Indonesian mother and a German father. My parents both love football – which is quite common in Germany, but also in Indonesia. They are crazy about football over there. My dad’s favorite team is Mönchengladbach, while my mom is a fan of Bayern Munich. Why both my sister and I take after our mother in this regard remains an unsolved mystery.
During my childhood and youth, we moved to a new city or country every four to five years. In hindsight, this is an experience that I truly cherish and appreciate, but it also led to a feeling of being rootless. I have struggled with the notions of “home” and “identity” throughout my whole life. Having lived in Indonesia and Japan for many years, I had a fraught relationship with Germany. But every time I watched Bayern Munich or the national team play, I felt like I do belong after all – in these moments, I felt German.
Football has been a constant in my life, with some breaks and less intense phases in between because it was not always easy to follow German football and the Bundesliga abroad. Luckily, this has changed in the past years.
As a child – and also later as a teenager – the only thing I ever wanted to be when I was growing up was a writer. Since I did not write a bestselling novel in high school that would guarantee a carefree existence without any financial worries, my plan B was to become a journalist – which I did. I worked as a features reporter/ editor for a Jakarta-based newspaper and magazine and thoroughly enjoyed it. Honestly, I think those were easily the best years of my life so far.
As a features writer, I covered – as I like to call it – the good things in life: art, music, literature, travel, culture, design, film. But of course it did not go unnoticed in the newsroom that I was an avid football fan. The sports editor was kind enough to let me write a bi-weekly column during the World Cup 2010. In these columns, I offered commentary on events on and off the pitch. Since the column was relatively well received, I was allowed to continue writing them during the next two major football tournaments as well.
In 2017, I covered the International Champions Cup in Singapore, attending Bayern Munich games, a fan tournament, a training session as well as the official pre-and post-match press conferences. I often caught myself thinking: damn, I love my job!
Personally, everything fell into place for me in 2013 and 2014: first, Bayern Munich clinched the treble, and one year later Germany won the World Cup in Brazil. It was simply wonderful because I could see Bastian Schweinsteiger, my all-time favorite football player, lift those trophies after so many failed (and sometimes downright tragic) attempts.
But it was also gratifying for another reason: even though I was still happily living in Indonesia at the time, I had never felt more German. It was such an overwhelming and incredible feeling that I wrote a whole book about this experience, which I self-published a year later (shameless self-promotion at this point but hey, if not now, when?).
So, there you have it: writing and football have been the two great loves of my life, and therefore it seems only natural that sooner or later their paths would cross. I never wanted to become a sports journalist because I feel too strongly about football – I was afraid that if I have to write about it on a daily basis, I would become bored with it.
I hardly write match reports, in-depth analysis or ponder about strategy. Others are much more skilled to do that. I only write about football when something happens that upsets me, moves me or makes me happy: when I attended Bastian Schweinsteiger’s farewell game at the Allianz Arena, when Mesut Özil was racially abused, or when Jerome Boateng was dismissed from the national team.
I love to put my thoughts down on paper (or type them on a keyboard, to be more precise), just like every other writer in this world, regardless of the topic, and most importantly, regardless of their gender. I honestly and truly wonder: how on earth can anyone find that disgusting?