My friend Jack is a pretty stand up guy. He’s a good guitarist and plays the notes to a Hendrix song as much as he plays the field with girls. He holds a very good conversation, sober or drunk. Trump-Kim summit; the best Nasi Lemak; or your favourite Hi-5 song, you name it, he can speak about it.
He only stops short on one topic. Football.
Every four years, Jack tiptoes his way around conversations during the World Cup season. When he heads down to a bar, he carefully picks a table far away from the TV screen. Like a vampire responding to sunlight, he curls away from any mention of football, especially during the biggest sporting competition in the world.
Rumours have it that he got dropped after numerous first dates when he returned a blank stare upon mention of the sport. I try not to pry. Jack has been a good friend.
This year, Jack pleaded with me to lend him some advice to survive this harrowing period. This time he adds, he ‘doesn’t want to suffer in silence’. I know he’s not alone.
Here’s a step-by-step guide on surviving the World Cup 2018.
At least know a name or two
Just memorise these two names: Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. When a discussion of good players in the World Cup comes up, just mention either name and throw your whole lexicon into the subject. Heck, I think throwing in our very own footballing legend Fandi Ahmad could help with the conversation.
If they retort your inclusion of Fandi Ahmad, start questioning their patriotism.
Find out where the matches are screening
If you’re looking to live a life free of piracy but refuse to sell your soul to the exorbitant prices of the World Cup streaming packages, here are some places which screen the World Cup. Some even for free.
The schedule for the World Cup matches can also be found here courtesy of The New Paper.
So if anyone asks you where you think would be the best place to hang out while watching a match, you’ll be ready.
Tip: Take a long sip of your drink every time you’re roped into a football-related conversation. Or make a beeline for the bathroom.
Learn the rules of football watching
For non-football fans, these rules work in your favour. Most important rule: avoid speaking up during an intense portion of the match. If everyone has their mouth agape and their eyes open to their physical limit, that’s the signal for an intense moment. If you utter an irrelevant word that is not an exclaimed profanity during that time, you’ll be met with a resounding shush.
Wait till the ball is out of the field or when play slows down. Even if important news like a train breakdown, impeachment of Donald Trump or total removal of GST pops up, it can wait.
If you walk in front of a screen during a match, be prepared to cut all ties with the person watching.
Kind of know the rules of football?
This part is the least important but it will help alleviate your confusion and boredom that is set to ensue. Brush up on some brief knowledge of footballing terms like throw-ins, corners, free kicks, substitutes and penalties.
This is simply to avoid any unnecessary fake cheering you have riled up in you.
Expect to change your identity and book yourself a ticket to one of the uncharted islands of Singapore if you cheer to a penalty given to the opposing side.
Have faith in football fans
Never let a few rotten ones spoil your experience. If your friend puts you down for being less well versed in football, it’s time to jot their name down in your Death Note (we’re kidding, plus there’s no such power in the world, right?).
Ask questions about the rules or players if you are confused. Let someone walk you through the unfamiliar terms and recount their favourite moments of the World Cup. I’m sure most fans would be happy to introduce the sport to you.
If you don’t grow to like it, at least you tried being a sincere friend, partner, spouse or child to whoever. I hope, like Jack, you’ll weather through this period and at least find a bit more joy during the World Cup.