Friday, September 21, 2007

WORLD CUP SOCCER!

If you are a devoted sports fan, you may already know that Tianjin is one of the host cities for the 2007 Women's World Cup! We, along with our friends Chris and Emily, were fortunate enough to be among the lucky 60,000 to get tickets to the CHINA-New Zealand game last night. The new stadium is amazing. Here is a shot I got of the first goal of the game in minute 57 (China completely dominated the game offensively, but NZ's defense kept the Chinese from completely wiping them out--the final score was 2:0):

video

Though we took the "long way" to our seats, the stadium workers were a great help. In fact, the first one carried our bag for us and had us follow her up and down stairs until we got to our section. Chris and Emily arrived waving mini New Zealand flags and I joined them in cheering on the underdogs who share our racial background, to the embarrassment of Tiff. She shook her head and rolled her eyes at us, asserting that New Zealand stood absolutely no chance against a team that got to choose from half a billion people, and 60,000 highly patriotic fans.

All the workers loved our foreign babies... several of them had their picture taken with them. They didn't seem to mind that Ellie wouldn't look at the camera and Didi was bawling. He was miserable the entire game, screaming like that kid's never screamed before under the stress and fright of fans screaming at a decibel level that shook the stadium, so Tiff took him out for the first half of the game trying to calm him down. Unfortunately, there was nowhere at all to sit down, but one doting worker (on the far right wishing us peace, Asian-style) offered Tiffany an apple for Erik and then walked her all around the stadium to find the first aid booth where there was a sole chair for her to calm him down and nurse. Later, when I went to find them, she chased me down to tell me where she was and that she was okay. She went far beyond the standard usher duties to make us feel extra welcome. It would be easy to take her kindness for granted, but we hope that we don't. There have been many strangers in China who have been very generous and accommodating--much more than we're accustomed to in the U.S. It was a refreshing reminder and made the team's victory even sweeter (for Tiff).

(This is how the stadium should look like on a clear, less-polluted day, though I suppose we'll never really know.)

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