Saturday 17 January 2009
8pm- Camp Nou. Barcelona
8 months old FCBSoci nr 169674, watched her first live match of her club Barça beating Deportivo (5-0), with two sons of Africa (Thierry Henry – France – and Samuel Eto’o) both scoring two goals each, and with Lionel Messi (Argentinian great) scoring the other. Her grandparents Antoni and Angeles have signed her up (then September 2008, the club had 169674 registered, paying members) and it is not seen as a big deal but quite normal in Catalunya. This, amongst other measures, effectively ensures that the supporters control their club, unlike in England and even our beloved South Africa where companies and oil sheiks are even in charge of our leisure time. Her grandfather saw his first match when he was 3 years old, and Marta and her brother when they were much younger.
All that may be remembered in years to come is that she came, Barça conquered, and L spent the second half eating a lot of bread and from time to time jumping out of fright, as her uncle Jordi screamed GOAALLLLLL. Barça is a family supported team that represents the nationalist sentiment of all Catalans, and generally there is not very much noisy singing. She generally speaking was cool and collected, but for the occasional Mexican Waves and sporadic chants. Of course, if this team wins many awards, she can truly say that she was both a paid up member who witnessed the journey to many victories. Barça have scored so many goals and the likes of Henry (best player of the night), Eto’o and Messi have scored amongst them more goals than the whole of Real Madrid during this season.
Whilst winning is always joyous, especially if they are playing the game as all clubs should: simple and elegant, we must remember that Barça is more than a club, a concept woven in its struggle against Francoism. The club says of the slogan “more than a club” that it is open-ended in meaning.
It is perhaps this flexibility that makes it so appropriate for defining the complexities of FC Barcelona’s identity, a club that competes in a sporting sense on the field of play, but that also beats, every day, to the rhythm of its people’s concerns. This than is the club that our daughter is a member of…
P.S. On this night Marta, L and I saw the match courtersy of the absence of the season holders L’s grandparents, who were out of town, skiing.