Tag Archives: football

The Soapbox Chronicles: Why The World Needs Football

So the latest news is that Balotelli’s coming over to AC Milan and the Milan fans of the city are stoked. He is such a beast of the field. It’s fun to have a new player to talk about and get more people excited about football and going to games, and it’s coming at a pretty convenient time too…

I grew up in Cali playing soccer. Wait, rewind, I tried out tennis, basketball, the clarinet, the piano and soccer, but soccer was the only thing I truly loved. When I spent a term on an exchange program in Spain, I was thrilled to be a part of a culture that embraced The Beautiful Game, whereas back home soccer was not nearly as popular. My friends and I would get frustrated everytime a big match would be on but our favorite bars weren’t playing it, and I would constantly gripe that we should have been born in Europe or South America. But we eventually did find our football bars in NYC (where all the expats were hiding), and a few friends and I even joined a co-ed team on Friday nights. Of course, a part of me was still pretty jealous about all the football love going on in the rest of the world.

So naturally you can guess just how excited I was when I found out I would be living in Milan for a year while getting my MBA. Finally, I’d be among people just like me! I was so happy imagining going to games, reading updates about players in the newspapers, playing matches with my classmates….

Wait, what? Did I hear that right? Girls don’t play football in Italy? Back up.

Instantly my dreams were crushed. How come in a country where football is religion half the population doesn’t take part in the sport? I know that girls get into rooting for their favorite team and go to watch the games, but I’m surprised that there isn’t more active participation for women. Well, that needed to change.

As some of you may know, a few of us students decided to start up the school’s Football Club this year. Aside from weekly games, we also made it a point to have the first co-ed football tournament last term. It was so great to get back out on the pitch again. We had five on five games going, and I was reminded about what I love so much about the sport. No matter what current issues we had with any classmates, when it came to game time we HAD to work together. Crossing, calling for the ball, (willingly) passing, scoring, celebrating… all of the stress and frustrations that existed back in the classroom melted away. Business school is such a group-focused program, and even though during this time the goal (yay for puns!) is to learn to work better with people that have different styles and backgrounds, it doesn’t always happen as effortlessly as we’d like. But on the field, when it’s either work together or get beat down by the other team, I was pleasantly surprised at just how well the teams all united. And what was even more fun is that it was such a great opportunity to get to know my colleagues better, especially the ones that I am not currently taking classes with. High-fiving, commending each other on that great assist, yelling at each other to make a mad dash for the goal (in the most positive, supportive way of course!) – all of this sure beats catching up over drinks at aperitivo. It would be wrong for the girls to not be able to enjoy this, too!

So even though I wasn’t as thrilled back home with the lackluster appreciation for the sport, now that I look back on it I wouldn’t trade anything for all the practices, games, tournaments, and orange slices I’ve had growing up. It’s ironic that it took coming to Europe to realize how fortunate I am that football’s such a welcomed sport for girls in North America… now let’s see what we can do with Italy! More on the formation of the SDA Bocconi girl’s football team to follow!

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Filed under Italy, The Soapbox Chronicles

Spain, The Football Dynasty

Sigh. The Euro 2012 Championships has ended. Don’t get me wrong, that was a happy sigh with Spain winning and all. Not every fan is fortunate to have 4 blissful years of straight wins with no tears shed (which I was pretty darn close to doing so both when I found out Villa was out on injury and when the US got knocked out of the ’10 World Cup.) The end of the Euro finals closes 3 weeks of beautiful football which, aside from being marvelous entertainment, was also simply a wonderful distraction (as is evident from the lack of my blog posts, woops.) I love this time of year because the football fans come out in full force – I’m so lucky to be in a city that has so many different places to watch the games. Even back home in LA it was a little bit harder to find good spots to watch some of the last World Cup games. I wish the country as a whole appreciated the sport more, but I hope that’ll change in time. Until then, I may just have to relocate to where the action’s at.

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The Beautiful Game: My Fav Football Bars for Euro 2012

For better or for worse, for the last couple weeks I have been obsessively reading up on the UEFA Euro ’12 championship. And now that it’s finally here (yay!) I can barely contain myself. For those of you that are not football fans, the Euros is kind of a big deal. It happens every four years between the World Cup, and the majority of the teams are pretty strong. 16 teams are divided up randomly into four groups and play for the highest points. Once the group stage has passed the two top teams in each group move forward and the winners play the runners up of another group, before it becomes to the death with the quarters, semis and final games. As a loyal Spain fan, I am naturally honing in on Group C whos biggest rival is Italy, but I am also in awe of B’s “Group of Death.” Regardless, each group has already proved to have some highly riveting games and anything can happen at this point.

So if you’re in NYC and looking for a spot to catch the games on the weekends or somewhere to sneak off and watch in the middle of the workday, here are a few spots I recommend checking out regardless of what team you may be backing.

Germany:

Zum Schneider

If you dare to go here for a Germany game, be prepared for the chaos that is sure to ensue. On days when their national team is playing, not only do they have a DJ but they also have an oompah band. That’s right, I said an Oompah Band! And when Germany won the recent World Cup the bat patrons took to the streets in celebration. This spot is definitely not for those that are looking for a quiet place to watch the game, so do yourself a favor and just get involved!

Bierhaus

Bierhaus is a welcome relief from the typically subpar bars in Midtown. While its not an outdoor beer garden, its pretty spacious and there’s good sized tv’s to catch the game. Add a delicious bratwurst, giant beers and dressed up bar maidens, and it’s a solid spot to show your German pride.

Spain:

La Nacional

When Alexis and I walked into this restaurant two years ago to catch a World Cup game, we were initially disappointed to see only about 3 other people in the whole place. However, the whole place was soon packed with Spaniards who shared our excitement for the game, and we were one of the very few non-native Spanish speakers in the room. Football + Spanish cursing = music to our ears.

Circulo Español

Ok, full disclosure – I haven’t been here BUT I feel the need to share it anyway because I was tipped off by a Spaniard who was raving about it. The restaurant is located in Astoria and is a big spot for expats. The suggestion is to get there early enough to order the delicious paella and make sure it gets brought to you before the game begins and the waiters suddenly forget about you.

England:

Football Factory at Legends

Started by one of the owners of Nevada Smith’s, this bar is a hot spot for not only European football but the NY Red Bulls as well. It’s somewhat known to be a Chelsea bar, so you can bet that there will be a big crowd rooting on the Brits here.

Italy:

Diva

Surprisingly not a lot of Italian football bars in NYC come to my mind, but one restaurant that is defintely an Italian supporter is Diva. Located in one of my favorite intersesctions in SoHo, its a great open-air brunch spot to snag a table and watch the game. While there’s only one tv in the whole place, the atmosphere is lively and its still worth checking out. Tip: Make a reservation in advance, try to snag a table closer to the tv, and order some pitchers of sangria.

Other Awesome Football Bars:

Peter Dillon’s

Not gonna lie, I’m a little reluctant to write about this bar because its my secret spot and I like it that way. However, it is a no frills pub that is serious about it’s football. I’ve come to love this place over the years, and you can guarantee big football matches will be given top priority over other sports when necessary. Bring your own food, and make sure to order a drink at the bar or the bartender (who I love!) will give you hell about it.

Nevada Smiths

I kind of wanted to keep this spot off my list as well just because its the main go-to bar that everyone mentions, but you’d be hard pressed to find more hardcore football enthusiasts packed into one dark bar anywhere else. When it’s not a championship game, the bar is rather low-key with seats available and not too many people around. However, for tournaments you can definitely expect a packed house and no seating room whatsoever. That being said, the energy level is high and if you go with it (and not care that you feel like sardines) then this can be a great spot to catch the games. *Note: Nevada Smith’s is currently under construction so they’ve temporarily relocated to Webster Hall around the corner.

Café Felix

Alright, so this is a French restaurant but if you were watching the Spain/Italy semi final match of Euro ’08 here then you would have seen my table of red jerseys jumping up and down in happiness amidst a sea of sad blue fans. That afternoon at Felix is hands down one of the top five best moments I’ve had in NYC and why I am an advocate for watching games at that bar. The brunch is delicious, the drinks are strong and the crowd is as euro as you can get in Manhattan. That being said, it’s a small spot and reservations must be made early in advance if you don’t want to be standing in the back, and make sure they plan on having the projector down for the game you want to watch. You can expect to find me here if Spain makes it to the finals this year.

Honorable Mentions:

Smithfield – A popular spot where football is the sport of choice and with tons of LED TV’s.

*Update – Just watched the Group of Death matches here on 6/16 and it was phenom! Enthusiastic crowd, awesome bartenders and two floors to make sure each game on gets audio. YES.

Central Bar – Large, open Irish bar in the East Village that can draw a rather eclectic crowd.

Stout – Sure, the location is a little annoying, but if you’re around Penn Station looking for a good bar to grab a table and watch the game this is a good call.

Rattle N Hum – This  bar is supposed to be one of the top football bars for the Euros, and also offers lots of delicious craft beer.

 

So now that you are fully informed on the Where, the question is When are we meeting up to catch a game?

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