As fate would have it, for the second time in the past year I was sent to cover football from the grass at the World Cup. The first time was at the World Cup in Qatar, and the second at the FIFA U-20 World Cup currently being held in Argentina.
Ofir Haim talks about the attack before the match against Brazil | Photo: Israel Football Association
Football from the grass is not like football from the stands, and certainly not like football from the TV screen. On the grass, at zero height, the perspective is different. What seemed far away was close, and what people thought was dangerous was nowhere near the gate. From the height of the grass you can't see how the players are arranged on the grass and it's very difficult to distinguish a different position, but from the height of the grass you hear everything, feel everything, connect much more.
Shibli. Gives a lot of credit to Ofir Haim, Photo: AP
From grass height, for example, Brazil looks and feels like Brazil. The uniform, the language and the accent, the muscles in my legs, the ball mine, the speed - there is no doubt that these guys in yellow and green come from the country that has won the World Cup five times On the other hand, from the height of the grass, the Israeli national team looks like a fantasy. Stav Lemkin, one of several bleached-haired people, communicates non-stop with his teammate at Hapoel Tel Aviv and his partner in the center of defense Or Israelov.
Goalkeeper Tomer Sarfati, one of the tournament's top performers, manages to clarify his instructions between the shots. From the height of the flap you can see the paragon between Yam Kanzpolsky and Eyal Madmon in the center of the field, the tremendous strengths of Dor Turgeman, the fighting spirit of defenders Roy Revivo and Ilai Feingold, and the faith that pushes every player in blue white. From the height of the grass you can hear every instruction that Ofir Haim conveys, every word he screams echoes in his ears.
Ofir Haim celebrates with Anan Halaili. Another huge win for the coach, photo: Reuters
Unlike sitting in the stands or at home, football from grass level knows best how to create a real connection to what is happening on the field itself. From the height of the pitch you hear every instruction given by coach Ofir Haim, every word he screams to the players echoes in your ears – all these shatter the walls of distinction between media people from coverage and a covered team.
Dor Turgeman celebrates Israel's third, Photo: AP
I confess, I was linked to the under-20 team, like a fan of his youth team. Because of the closeness that comes with watching, I want the success of the team much more than I would if I were in the stands, at home, in the system. If from a distance they look like heroes, just imagine how it feels up close.
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