Guest Post by: HR Senior Kira Iwai. She is a Foster School Undergraduate who participated on Exchange at Rotterdam School of Management.
Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Lisbon, Barcelona, Madrid, Oslo: 12 days to hit 6 cities in 4 different countries. This was the travel itinerary my childhood friend and I made early in our study abroad. My friend Isabel and I have been great friends since we were 7 years old, after we started playing soccer with one another. We were excited to try new cuisines, explore the tourist sites, and experience the local nightlife. However, we also were well aware of our rare opportunity to see a Spanish Football match! Only some of the best players in the world play in Spain: Lionel Messi, Luka Modric, Neymar, the list goes on. Viewing a live football match in Spain would exceed any U.S. Major League Soccer (MLS) game to us, simply because the culture and tradition of the national sport.
…Unfortunately, ZERO games were scheduled the week we were traveling in Spain. We couldn’t believe it! Though, we wanted to make the most of our experience. Instead, we booked a tour of Camp Nou, the esteemed stadium home to F.C. Barcelona! To put some context into visiting this stadium to Americans, this is like touring Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, or the Rose Bowl. A place where some of the best of the best in sports history have played.
Overall, the tour was remarkable! Within the walls of the stadium is the F.C. Barcelona museum, filled with the hundreds of tournament trophies the team have won, jerseys of their best athletes, and antique artifacts exhibiting the football club’s early establishment in 1899. We learned that to the people of Catalonia, FC Barcelona was not merely their local soccer team, but a key part of their Catalan history and culture. Traveling to Madrid the following day, I thought I’d check to if there was also tours available of their city’s football club… I couldn’t believe what I saw on my phone! Real Madrid (Madrid’s top football club), was playing a recently scheduled match the next day against another Spanish team. (*AHHHHH!)
Without a doubt, going to the game was a must. We bought the cheapest, nosebleed tickets in the house!
Walking into the Real Madrid football stadium on a match day was unreal! As 80,000 fans sang in strong unison the “Hala Madrid Y Nada Mas” (The Real Madrid Song), I couldn’t help but get a bit teary eyed. I felt the culture, tradition, and history of the sport in that stadium. I thought, “Now this is what fútbol is all about!”