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  • Writer's pictureKatalina Haddad

the return of football... and me

Just been escaping a pandemic and having an existential crisis. Hbu?

On the 18th of March, 2020, I hopped on a flight (unwillingly) out of Barcelona to return to my home soil in Australia. In a matter of days, Spain had succumbed completely to the pandemic and life was not the same, and it wasn’t going to be for an unknown period of time. Calls from friends and parents in Australia, my boss in Spain, everyone said to go home. “There’s no football anyway” they would say. It was true. Football was one of my main reasons for being there in the first place, so without it, I was left alone in an apartment, juggling toilet paper for fun and using any sunshine that came through the window as an opportunity to sit and reflect. For this reason, on the 18th of March, I booked a return flight to Australia months before I have ever planned or even thought to go home. I remember looking out of the plane window as we lifted off in Barcelona and I started to cry. It was this strange feeling of leaving so much unfinished business in the city, so many plans cancelled and no hugs goodbye, just soulless WhatsApp messages breaking the news of my departure. Even now, months later, there’s no closure, just an acceptance that I am no longer there and that a little part of me will always reside in the Iberian Peninsula, until my return.

Arriving back in Sydney was bittersweet. After a few weeks of quarantine it was nice to see family and friends but the feeling lingered and so my existential crisis incurred. What am I actually doing?

What do I want to do?

Will I get back to Spain?

Would I be happy if I stayed in Sydney?

It’s actually not so bad here…

but I need to go back…

The recurring messages that only perpetuated my confusion and unrest. However, what kept me sane was being able to communicate with friends overseas, spend time with friends in Sydney, and understand that I had escaped a pandemic. I guess it’s all about perspective, right?

So… with all this said and the self pity aside, no football has been a hell of a ride. A bit like a breakup, but one that you never wanted. Football broke up with me - the unsuspecting partner. It was stages of denial, and then acceptance, distracting myself and then denial again. It needs to be said that football clubs did an exceptional job of providing content of their teams training in isolation and sports media continued to share highlights and best moments in football. There really was no shortage of content throughout the pandemic. However nothing beats a real, live, play by play football game and I can only watch Messi’s top moments so many times.

The day has come. On the 17th of June we will see the return of the English Premier League (and my sanity) and on the 11th of June we will see the return of La Liga. Thankfully, we have also been graced by the presence of the Bundesliga for the last month or so. We shall also see the return of sleepless nights and early mornings, as I come to the realisation that I am no longer in the football friendly timezone. But heck, I will take what I can get!

As football makes its way back, so will my inspiration. But to be honest, I have no idea where this blog is going now. If we have learnt anything in the pandemic, is that we don’t have the control and plans don’t always go to plan - we just have to live in the moment. I guess that’s all part of the fun, right?


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