When I arrived to start my French immersion stay in France, I hadn’t realised that I would be here during the 2018 World Cup which started yesterday and the energy was clear for all to see and enjoy, throughout the streets of Montpellier where I have been attending the ILA French Immersion School the crowds were amassing. The endless terraces always have a vibrant atmosphere as people enjoy their evening apéro, there is now, however, an extra zest that is plain to see and very alluring. Over the past few days I have lots to do around the city centre and as none of the games so far have convinced me to sit down and watch a full game I still like to know what’s going on and follow the tournament as it progresses. Thus, it is great walking around the city centre getting all of the things done I need to and occasionally stopping by one of the terraces to have a little look at how the matches are progressing.
Yesterday was a particularly busy day at the bars of Montpellier as Morocco took on Iran. With the large part of the population with roots in the Maghreb, Morocco will be closely followed and that was evident yesterday. The streets were alive with the shouts and screams of the animated supporters and it gave me an overwhelming feeling of being involved in something big. Morocco lost that game unfortunately but there are many games ahead for the teams to catch up.
Today was the big one though. France’s first match and spirits are high. With a decent recent record and having been put into a relatively easy group, Frances hopes are gaining momentum. One of my teachers from the language school Davide is a big footie fan and he has been filling us all in with the details on the French team. Many of the other students in my intensive French immersion classes are football fans but obviously have come from other countries so almost none of them know much about football in France. This is an interesting comparison as the UK’s Premier League is renowned around the world and as I am a very distant fan of football (enjoy the odd game) lots of other students from different continents know infinitely more about my country’s league than me. Davide informed us that France are in a group with Denmark, Peru and Australia who France played their first match against today.
From France to Australia, Football Matters
This was a particularly exciting match-up as some of my French friends who I have met during my time learning French in France, my Australian friend Lochie and I all got together to watch the game together whilst also enjoying a barbeque. Watching an international game with supporters from both camps is a fantastic atmosphere and is one of the things that converts semi-interested people like me into full blown addicts. I think I probably enjoyed it more than Lochie as he was so focused on the game that he wasn’t aware of anything else whereas I was enjoying the game as well as the opportunity to speak French in a new context.
Watching the pre-match interviews in particular was a highlight, at least from a learning French perspective. As they moved through the players and spoke to the mangers as well I was able to listen and I understood a fair bit. Having watched many such interviews in English and the fact that the subject is the same and similar topics are discussed on that subject was very helpful as I could make more educated guesses on what unfamiliar words meant. Also, the atmosphere was a little calmer than during the match where it was almost impossible to hear the commentary. My French friends were engaged in the match in a similar way to Lochie, so I didn’t want to be pestering them all the way through to ask stuff like ‘what is the French word for substitute?’. Substitut, not that hard.
Although generally considered an average performance by my friends, the French won 2-1 and earnt bragging rights over Lochie for the next few matches. He still enjoyed it however, as did I and we are looking forward to more French immersion during the 2018 World Cup.