Friday, May 14, 2004

:: I guess that you’ve heard in the news that the Iraqi Olympic football team has successfully passed the qualifiers for Athens (the last time they did was in 1988 I guess). Although this was three days ago and despite all the current conflicts and unfavorable conditions we have, it’s still the reason behind the broad smiles on the faces of Iraqis in the streets.
I was in Basra when our Olympic team won the match against the Saudi team 3-1 and I had no idea about the way Baghdadis celebrated this victory until I returned back yesterday. Only then, I knew that the celebrations were no less than those we saw when Saddam was captured; people went down to the streets in many neighborhoods singing, dancing and shooting in the air (I don’t like this last one but it’s better than shooting each other and it helps to deplete the stockpiled ammunition ). I’m not a sports expert but I believe that what our athletes did was close to a miracle; they had to win with a good result (1-0 was not enough) and at the same time they had to wait for a draw in the Kuwait- Oman match. In addition, the last time Iraq won a match against Saudi Arabia was in 1988 and since then the Saudi team became a difficult barrier to pass. More than this, all home matches for the Iraqi team were held outside Iraq because of the security situation. I remember similar occasions-most of them with easier groups and moderate required results-in the past and those always led to a failure but this time we saw great determination and hard work from our team to win and to prove their skills. Why is this? And why do Iraqi athletes score better than before despite the low budgets, short training course and all the technical problems they have to overcome and psychological pressures they’re subjected to?
I have one reasonable cause in my mind; Udday is gone and the athletes now are training, playing and scoring to satisfy their fans, bring joy to the hearts of their countrymen and to become famous, successful and rich not to avoid Udday's inhumane punishment nor to please the tyrant’s bloody son who used to hijack their rare victories which were considered to be “the results of his wise leadership of the sport movement in the great Iraq”.
When Iraqis were celebrating, they forgot everything about "occupation", "resistance", "unemployment" and politics in general.
They just wanted to see something that makes them regain confidence in themselves and in their country and I could feel them say "YES, WE DID IT IN FOOTBALL AND WE CAN DO IT IN OTHER FIELDS".

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