The glamorous lives of footballers seem a world away from the reality people are facing during the Covid pandemic. But as a documentary about Bobby Moore showed our fan reporter Atiya Zakaria, the game still has the power to touch and inspire even during the darkest times
It’s been a while since I’ve watched a football match. It’s strange to think that the season would have been wrapping up now – that is, if we were still living in the “before” days. But overnight things have shifted. The newspapers have slimmed and the back pages are lifeless.
I’ve forgotten all about the drama of the season: who would finish in the top four, Liverpool’s long-awaited title triumph and the seed of hope I had that Chelsea would overturn the 3-0 deficit in our next Champions League game, in Germany against Bayern.
That’s all a distant memory. These days I’m focused on day-to-day living: remote work, cooking and spending time with family. In all honesty, I’ve been avoiding football. Because during this crisis, football seems as daft as anything. Do I really, week in and week out, spend time and money watching overpaid athletes kick a ball for 90 minutes? Footballers, who are able to quarantine lavishly in their apartments and stupendously large houses, seem irrelevant.
But a few weeks ago I watched a documentary that reminded me that football is real life. Take away the glamour and at its heart football is about people: stories of players, spectators, coaches, commentators and kit men.
I watched Bobby, the documentary about former England captain Bobby Moore, who lifted the World Cup in 1966. Bobby's story is magnificent; a boy with small boots and big dreams. After battling personal problems, he went on to achieve the impossible 21 years after the world had been rocked to its core by the war.
But Bobby was no surgeon. Nor was he a key worker. He was not a shopkeeper, postman, cleaner or healthcare worker. Plain and simple, he played football. And yet he did make a difference. The football he played - in fact, the game as a whole - provided relief and helped revive a nation that had fallen to its knees.
After six years of war, thousands returned to the beautiful game. It’s strange seeing the smiles on the faces of people who had not long before witnessed calamity and tragedy. So I’m beginning to realise the need for football, especially in a time of uncertainty, and how it can help provide feelings of hope, courage and calm.
I’m sure some time in the future, when something rocks the world again, people will find solace in this story and see how football, hopefully, helped rebuild a fractured society. How on a Saturday evening you could once again hear the familiar tune of Match of the Day, or on a cold Sunday morning see children flocking to the pitches to play. When football returns, I’ll welcome it with open arms. But for now I’ll continue to relive stories like Bobby Moore’s. It’s about more than a ball ending up in the back of the net.
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