Studying in the UK as a football fanatic can be understood as similar to being a cricket-loving student in India – you find yourself in the middle of the energy and enthusiasm of the sports all the time.
Facing culture shock when moving to a new country is nothing but normal. However, it is a little easier to adjust to life in the United Kingdom if you are a football fan or are willing to learn more about the beautiful game. In this blog, we will discuss how knowing your football can actually help you feel more at ease during your study abroad journey in the UK.
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Status of Football in the UK
Much like cricket in India, football enjoys a cult and religion-like status in the United Kingdom. Football has become entrenched in the lives of the UK population and is often considered a binding factor for the country. A parallel can be drawn here between India and UK. While you will find Indian fans obsessing over Kohli and Sachin, English football fans often obsess over Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney.
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Much like India, when the English football national team plays, more or less the whole country comes together and it is often considered a celebration. This became all the more apparent with the “It is coming home” calls during the last few editions of the FIFA World Cup and Euros. The atmosphere on the streets during matches can be compared to a carnival with banners, chants and the occasional fireworks.
Football as a Way to Become a Part of the Community
English football is divided into many leagues ranging from non-league where amateur footballers play to the premier league which is the top flight in English football. There are many other divisions in between.
Each division has plenty of football clubs with loyal supporters. The best part about football supporters in England is that the love of the game transcends age, race and gender. Here is an interesting fact to validate how football crosses the barriers of religion and colour and may even lead to building a more tolerant community:
Tips for a Football-Loving Student in the UK
Here are some ways how you can use football to become a part of your local community with some of our additional tips:
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Find a Club to Support
If you are already not following English football or have a preferred club, the first step would be to find a football club to support or watch. It is not necessary to support one of the bigwigs like Manchester United, Liverpool or Arsenal. You could even support your small local team such as Tottenham Hotspurs.
There is no shortage of teams in England, and smaller teams that may not play in the top division also have a loyal fan base but with inexpensive tickets. In the beginning, it would be best to support a team in your vicinity as it would allow you to visit the stadium regularly and meet other supporters in your area. This also aligns with the “Local for Vocal” ideology of India.
Stick by Your Club
Nothing bothers English football fans more than a glory hunter. A glory hunter could be described as someone who supports a team only in the good days and jumps ship as soon as hardships occur. As the French footballer Eric Cantona once said:
Football, like life, will not always be easy. There would be good times and bad times but English fans particularly pride themselves on their loyalty towards their football teams. So please don’t go around supporting Manchester City one week and Manchester United the other.
Find Local Bars for Match Screenings
Owing to the widespread popularity of football in England, most local bars will end up holding small or large screenings of football matches. If you are not able to go to the stadium to watch matches, these small bars and pubs are great places to interact and meet fellow fans. While there may be a slight hesitancy and awkwardness in the start, as you become regular to the club you would be able to make friends and become a part of the group.
Beware of Football Hooliganism
While English fans are passionate about football, there are times when rivalries get heated and may escalate to brawls and clashes amongst fans of rival clubs. These instances, though few and far in between, may cause unnecessary law and order situations. If you find yourself in such a situation, exit the situation instead of indulging in mob mentality.
All in all, football is a great way to assimilate yourself with the community in the United Kingdom and start feeling at home. It is also a great way to find friends and build rapport with neighbours and people living around your accommodation. We hope this blog helps students in making their study abroad experience and journey slightly easier.
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