World Cup comes to Bellaire


Photo provided by Samantha Corona

Junior Samantha Corona gets ready to watch Mexico fight for their World Cup dreams as they play Poland in the group stages.

It takes something special to bring the world together. This winter, the entire world has their eyes set on Qatar to see who lifts the biggest trophy in the world. Thirty-two teams entered Doha with the aim of winning the FIFA World Cup, but only one can bring that glory back to their home country.

The tournament consists of a three game group stage (with seven groups) that culminates in a knockout style bracket. Games began on Nov. 20, ending with the finale on Dec. 18. This provides a month for heavyweight matchups, exciting plays and the underdog story people like junior Jack Berry, loves.

“With the World Cup, teams you’ve never expected make the round of 16, do, and there are some crazy upsets,” Berry said. “Japan beating Germany and Spain, but then they lost to a team even ranked lower, Costa Rica. So it’s pretty crazy to watch.”

People who play the video game, FIFA, like junior varsity soccer player Lucas Dolibois, have been drawn to the World Cup because they want to see the player they have had on their screen play in real life.

“I played with Argentina in the 2010 FIFA a lot and there was this really fast player that had red cleats, and it turns out that that player was Messi,” Dolibois said. “I’ve been a supporter of Argentina since then.”

While FIFA has brought Dolibois closer to soccer, watching the World Cup with family is one of the ways many kids, like junior Samantha Corona, get into the sport.

“Since my entire family was into soccer, we’d reunite as a family for each match,” Corona said. “That is kind of how I got into soccer as a kid and really started watching the World Cup.”

Watching these world class athletes not only draws people into watch, but also inspires people to pursue soccer as a sport.

“After the 2010 World Cup, I picked up soccer immediately and really haven’t looked back since,” Dolibois said. “It’s been my main sport ever since that World Cup and that’s really the first time that I ever got introduced to soccer.”

Not only does the World Cup inspire the people that watch it, but it can also bring people together as they root for the same country.

“I’ve been frequently supporting the Korean team,” Berry said. “One of my really, really good friends is Korean, so I’ve been supporting the Korean national team and it is really exciting watching and cheering together.”

For students like Dolibois, it proved a challenge to watch many of the games that fell during classes. Due to the World Cup being held on the other side of the world, the group stage schedules would begin at 4:00 a.m and go until 1:00 p.m.

“I kind of had to manage when I’m going to sleep, and I’ve had to set alarms to watch the group stage games at 4 a.m. and then after that, at a 10 a.m.or 1 p.m. game I’m normally up for which is good,” Dolibois said. “I wouldn’t be able to watch all the games obviously because of school, but I was able to have a little checkup here and there on ESPN or during the passing period or lunch. That works pretty well to be able to watch at least the first half of some of the games.”

The games during school have created an unprecedented atmosphere where students watching the games can connect with each other.

“I remember right after Messi missed a penalty kick against Poland, in the hallways people were just talking about how Messi could have missed a penalty,” Berry said.“It is really like whenever something big happens you can tell certain people react and you know they are watching the game.”

Though the new timings have created a new atmosphere for games, they have also forced many families to adapt their traditions that they held for so long.

“At school, we still find ways to watch the games and support together,” Corona said. “My family has a soccer group chat and we’re talking about the game with predictions and then reactions to whenever something happens.”

This connection of friends, families or strangers around a simple game of football is what makes the World Cup so special.

“For my family, the World Cup is our thing,” Corona said. “We come together around it and it really brings us together for that one month.”