Ramadan is officially over. During breakfast yesterday at my host family’s home, an announcement ran across the bottom of the television screen and confirmed that the month of Ramadan, which depends on the lunar calendar, had ended. Everyone seemed excited to celebrate 3id Al Fitr, the day after Ramadan. Saida, my host mom, quickly mentioned that she would have to get started on the sweets. Luckily for me, 3id Al Fitr lands on a Friday this year, which means I ate couscous today, finally.
The end of Ramadan is also coinciding with the beginning of another great Moroccan tradition- soccer. The World Cup has begun! Morocco is in the competition this year, the first time in 20 years. Soccer is the most celebrated sport in Morocco, and I’ve never seen any sport have such an impact.
I was in my training site during the win that qualified Morocco to participate in the World Cup. I watched part of the game at a cafe that I regularly frequented. The huge cafe was packed, maybe a quarter of the people present were standing, including me. When the Moroccan team won, an overwhelming feeling of unity and bliss took over. Everyone ran into the streets, screaming, waving flags, climbing on trucks. Cars honked to show support and were stuck in bumper to bumper traffic in the middle of nowhere because the streets were blocked by hundreds of Moroccans cheering. At one point I was centimeters, at best, away from getting my feet run over by a car.
The US equivalent might be being in the city of the winning Super Bowl team after the game. Except I was in a small town in the mountains. This was happening in countless villages and cities across the entire country. It was like life stopped everywhere to celebrate patriotism and soccer.
So Morocco is playing its first game with Iran as I post this. The energy is already putting a smile on my face.The ability of sports to unite people across all categories of humanity has often been a great distraction from the tension and disconnects within society and oneself. Sports have the power to provide a sense of community and pride, and I have loved being invested in a sports competition ever since my dad introduced me to the Steelers. Though I’m all about Morocco making it as a resident of Morocco, I’m also sending love to my beautiful country of Peru. Regardless of the outcome, the international community is coming together to celebrate soccer, sportsmanship, teamwork, and patriotism. May we all be great losers, winners, opponents, and teammates.