Kris Fernandes is a FIFA accredited freelance writer based in Toronto. He has been actively involved in spreading the love of the beautiful game in Canada and abroad for several years through administration, media coverage and coaching. He also covered the 2006 FIFA World Cup live for CBCSports.ca with the popular journal series, "A Canadian in Germany". Contact Kris at firstname.lastname@example.org
TORONTO - I run around my house anxiously biting my nails, a terrible habit I know, in severe anticipation for my flight to Amsterdam later on Wednesday evening.
Do I have everything I need? Passport? Check. Flight ticket? Check. Toiletries? Check. 22 jerseys and scarves to trade with other fans? Damn. I forgot the Sweden 2006 away kit. I leap up the stairs like a gazelle to find it. I grab the bright yellow kit and am pleasantly surprised to also find a pair of 2004 Portugal home socks. Victory!
This frantic pre-flight workout is a staple every time I leave for a major soccer tournament. It is worth it. I always wait four long years for these three glorious weeks in June of sheer soccer bliss. It is a time when European soccer fanatics travel abroad to engage in mindless self-indulgence. It is by far and away the best international soccer tournament in existence — I am talking about Euro.
It is just under three days away from opening night and as you can tell I am just revved to go. As soon as I land, I will take the train from Holland to Geneva through Germany, just to have more time to read up on team reports and player profiles so I am fully up to date upon arrival.
Thankfully when I do get into Switzerland, I have a great seat for the opening night match between Turkey and my beloved Portugal. A friend of mine invited me to watch some Turkish league action at his friend's place a few weeks back. I enjoyed the games immensely and continued to go over every Sunday until the end of the season. The host of these games, Ben, mentioned that his father is an executive at a Turkish firm that sponsored the national team and invited me to attend their games at Euro with him. I didn't need to be asked twice.
We then convinced our good friend Deniz, the head of the hardcore group of fans known as the Southside Jumpers at BMO Field, to join us. Deniz is the kind of guy who works a typical 9-5 at a university during the day and spends his time and wages at night meticulously creating giant custom banners and tifo's (enormous mosaics that includes an entire section or stand). I am in some seriously good company for the first week.
During the entire tournament I will be here for CBCSports.ca to share the true experiences of being there live.
I will bring you the stories of fans from around the world to showcase their passionate and unique displays affection for the beautiful game. If you are looking for an authentic adventure of a European Championship in a Canadian way, my friends you have come to the right place.
I am dedicating all my entries to every ridiculously addicted soccer fan back in Canada, particularly to my brothers and sisters in U Sector, 113 represent.