Hong Kong one weekend, Costa Rica the next
While sport isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, one of the things I enjoy about travel is attending football (soccer) matches in the different countries that I visit. As well as heading along regularly when I was living in England and Germany, I have been to games in Austria, Spain, Portugal, Estonia, Norway, Brazil, Mexico, Italy, Serbia, Japan, the USA, Cuba and my native Australia. Cuba easily wins the goals to entrance fee ratio, with seven goals scored in return for the ten cent ticket!
We were in Hong Kong recently and some quick research revealed that there was a Hong Kong Premier League match taking place on the Saturday afternoon. The stadium seemed pretty easy to get to and the friend that we were staying with recommended checking out the nearby markets in Mong Kok, so it made sense to go!
One thing I will say about Hong Kong is, do your research on the weather before you go! We had assumed that it would always be hot and humid (just like Singapore), only to be greeted with twelve degrees on arrival… This made watching the football quite challenging, especially given that we’d just spent two weeks in sweltering Myanmar, but we got through it to see underdogs Southern upset top team Eastern 2-0.
Fast-forward one week and we were back in Costa Rica, heading along to watch our local team, Liga Deportiva Alajuelense. I had seen them play half a dozen times last year, so it was good to be back after several months in Australia over the summer. Unfortunately, the result didn’t go our way, with ‘La Liga’ going down 3-1, but I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between football here and half a world away in Hong Kong.
Regardless of the language being spoken, you will always find the same characters amongst the crowd:
- The group of older guys who head along together every week and to whom the event is as much about socialising as it is the actual result
- The quiet, reserved supporter who barely utters a word during the week but screams every expletive under the sun at the referee during those crucial ninety minutes
- The nervous, leg-shaking, nail-biting fan whose entire week will be shaped by the result
- The football aficionado who is purely there to watch the match
As disappointing as it was to see my team play poorly, the reminder that people the world over support, celebrate and commiserate in exactly the same way was enough to confirm that it really is ‘the beautiful game’.
Are you one of the sports fans listed above, or do you fit into a category that we’ve missed?!