I’m not really a soccer person, but to be fair I’m not a football kind of person either. I suppose if I had to choose it would be tennis and that long before King Roger took to the courts. But that is neither here nor there. This is about soccer. Soccer is called football over here and to keep it clearly separated from football, football is called American football.
Living in Switzerland or Europe for that matter, there is no way around soccer. You see the results on the news, you hear and see the fans tromping to the games with their horns, flags, appropriately colored scarves and painted faces, it’s on the front page of the newspapers, kids play it in the streets, people talk about it at work, or during an important tournament groups of kids stand on the sidewalks holding signs that say “HONK if you are a Young boys fan” or whatever team they are for. By the way, Young Boys really is the name of the Bernese team, the team from Zurich is call the Grasshoppers, go figure. Most of the other teams are just called FC (for football club) and name of place. In short, soccer is omnipresent, it’s everywhere.
My knowledge of soccer is limited and goes about as far as there are two teams, two goals, each team has 11 players on the field occasionally the referees will give you a card, yellow or red depending on what you did. The teams are divided into leagues, the Swiss League, Champions League and Super-duper League. I don’t know much more than that. Really.
I was surprised when one of my husband’s 3rd graders started talking to me about a ‘big’ soccer game. How good it was and who kicked the goals and when. He asked me if I had seen it and what did I think. Kids, you’ve gotta love ‘em. They think just because you’re an adult you know everything about everything. He was talking and talking and I was saying, ‘uh huh, yeah, uh huh, yeah, yeah, no, you don’t say’ not understanding what or who he was talking about except that it was soccer. I said I hadn’t seen the game which animated him to tell me in even more detail what had happened. This was all in Swiss-German and then he kept using this one word over and over: “Behn-altie”. Obviously this was something like a goal. Something very important. But what? I had never heard that word before. I had no idea what it was so I finally asked him. His answer: “behn-altie? A behn-altie is a, well… a behn-alti. You know, behn-altie, behn-altie, BEHN-ALTIE.” With that he was finished with his definition.
“Oh, I see. A BEHN-ALTIE.” As soon as I had said it I knew what it was. He was speaking Swiss German but this was an English word albeit spoken with a Swiss accent. I think I should have gotten the red card for my command of the English language. Penalty!