I used to play this ‘getting to know your counselors’ game at camp, where at the beginning of the summer you had to match a counselor with a random fact. They ranged from “I broke my left leg when I was seven” to “I traveled to 13 countries in one year.” I have no plans to be a camp counselor, but I now have a pretty cool fact.
I watched Real Madrid’s 10th UEFA championship win in Madrid, in their stadium, and then I celebrated with their fans at Plaza de Cibeles.
Not many people–especially those not from Madrid–can say that.
I’m not going to pretend that reporting on the circumstances and atmosphere surrounding that game was easy. At all. But it was a really cool learning experience. First, my reporting partner Bryan and I walked around the stadium for about two and a half hours, taking in the atmosphere and talking to whatever people would respond (and who spoke English…). Naturally, the language barrier gets in the way, but I tend to underestimate how hard it is to interview people AND have them speak English. All things considered, I think we got pretty lucky.
We were then lucky enough to be given tickets into the stadium. Yes–just given tickets to a game that had no free seats available. My seat was basically as high as you could go and still be in the stadium–but I was there. I suppose I should give a shout-out to my father, here, for forcing me to watch soccer all my life. Perhaps force is a strong word, but I stick by it. Waking up every weekend to my father watching soccer at least gave me an understanding of the game, and the (essential) religion that surrounds the sport. In any case, I got to experience the game with Real fans. And really, you would’ve sworn the game was happening right there, in that stadium–not in Lisbon.
Unfortunately, we didn’t stick around for the end of the game, which would have, I’m sure, been an astounding thing to witness. Instead, we were part of the first 20 people who reached the fountain where Real fans were to celebrate. And the from the second the game ended, the real party began (no pun intended!). A DJ arrived, and started playing music loudly, all to the backdrop of the post-game celebration.
Of course, the writing and editing part, which came after, kept me up all night with the rest of the team. It was stressful, and we were all very tired. Throwing a group of tired people into a room and telling them to work together isn’t exactly a formula for success, but I think we did an incredible job. I’m extremely proud of what we were able to accomplish.
****The original posting of our story can be found on our Northeastern Journalism blog; the “reprint,” if you will, can be found on the Boston Globe’s website; my story–which consists of short scenes from throughout the day of the game–can be found on our blog as well.