No sport does harmony quite like football writes Adam Peacock.
Harmony Day is something that resonates with our future. Literally.
See it every year with my kids, who celebrate this day at school. It’s a damn good idea; getting into the minds of the young about the welcoming of diversity and amazing array of cultures that weaves its way into Australian society.
No sport does this like football. Players with backgrounds of all kinds are on show every weekend; and every weekend in other parts of the world Australians are part of football culture.
Which brings us to the biggest convergence of football culture - meaning cultures full stop - the world can see. The World Cup.
I got to go to my first one in 2014. I’d been to Olympics before, so was expecting something similar. Wrong. So wrong.
The Olympics is special in its own way, mainly from the point of view so many counties are competing at once. And there’s a fair roll up of visitors from all corners.
The World Cup though is next level.
Brazil was memorable for so many reasons. Yeah the Socceroos didn’t win a point, but that wasn’t the point.
Learning to see how Brazil somehow gets from one day to the next, some in comfort, many in squalor, was the very definition of an eye-opening experience. Squeezing through alleyways no wider than your own shoulders on a tour of a favela where families of eight live in one room, on one mattress was confronting and still vivid. Because they could still smile, and their football team (apart of the 7-1 semi loss to Germany) made them smile.
Hearing fernet-fuelled Argentinians, campervans parked all along the Copacabana promenade, singing about Diego Maradona stuffing over Brazil at previous World Cups at 3am still rings in the eardrums.
Walking out of the stadium at Porto Alegre being applauded by Dutch fans because the Socceroos gave them an almighty fright; that was cool too. Sure, we had bugger all to do with our performance, but it was nice anyway.
Just three short moments, out of hundreds.
Will Russia allow such harmony?
Well last June at the Confederations Cup there was a great scene on the eve of Australia v Chile. Hundreds of Chilean fans had converged on Red Square before taking the train to the game. Drums and rhythm and noise bounced off the stony walls at the heart of Soviet and now Russia authority and you felt as alive as possible just witnessing it. Locals jumped in, the odd Australian too.
Sadly the Chileans won’t be there in a few months, having failed to qualify, but that’s not to say Red Square wont be full of Swedes one day, Peruvians the next, Nigerians the day after and so on and so on.
Sure, who get the feeling the odd moron will take it upon itself to start some trouble, and you’ll see and hear about that (especially when about 547 Russian army officers jump on it in 2.1 nanoseconds). But guarantee for every incident like that, there’ll be 10000 unreported moments of happiness and hilarity.
An event like this actually serves to display what humanity can be if it just managed to enjoy itself a bit more. Harmony at its best.