An older student raises his hand
“Teacher, may I please leave the class early?”
(He looks pretty agitated, maybe it’s some important work stuff, he is an important looking businessman after all.)
“Of course Mr E, if you have work to attend to you don’t have to stay. I hope everything is ok.”
“Oh yes teacher everything is fine, there is a man with a Falcao sticker just five minutes away. . .”
What? Oh yeah, this fiftyish year old man is asking to leave his expensive English class twenty minutes early because he wants to pick up a football sticker for his collection from someone he has found on a sticker tracking app.
When I was younger it was Pokemon cards, crazy bones, Hearsay stickers (remember Hearsay?) and tazzos. Why I needed umpteen circular pieces of cardboard that could be clipped together to make a larger more erratic piece of cardboard I am now unsure of, but I do remember it being very important. Especially my shiny tazzos, those things were the playground equivalent of having a Rolex. Fads have been around forever. Kids fads were the sole use of my pocket money until I started to spend it on cheap cider and Cosmo girl. Because in my mind that’s how a fad works, they rope in kids to a must have product, a mentality you eventually grow out of.
Saying that, it seems that the fad is alive and well in Colombia. With Colombia’s first entry into the World cup in 16 years in a country that is well known anyway for its passion for the beautiful game, sticker collecting is sweeping the country. And it isn’t just for kids, everyone has the Panini sticker book. Vendors set up on street corners to swap and sell stickers, there are apps to track rare stickers and people post online asking for particular trades. You can even see large groups of people gathering together in the twilight after work to trade stickers.
I’m in no way immune from this endemic. I like collecting, I like attractive football players, I get excited when I peel back the thin paper on a packet of stickers to see the glittery surface of a special shiny sticker sparkling back at me. I bought my book and have already started throwing my money away on little sticky photos of men.
There is a threefold motivation that I am trying to justify buying these stickers to myself with.
3 reasons that I’ll be collecting
- People love football. I have no strong feelings about football, but if so many people worldwide can get so passionate about eleven men running around on a big field then there must be something I’m missing out on. (This logic may be flawed, there are thousands of tweens passionately devoted to the Twilight novels and I’m pretty convinced I’m not missing much there) Its country assimilation. I came here to learn about a new culture. Football is important here visa vi collecting stickers is a valid way to get into the spirit of Colombia
- I suck at flags. I seriously don’t recognise any of them, this can be educational for me, I can learn about football, learn how to say different football specific vocabulary in Spanish (and probably have to learn in English too) and I can start to actually know the flags for different countries.
- Footballers are attractive, admittedly they aren’t rugby players with their smushed up faces and muscled thighs . . . . . . . . . . .
Sorry, I lost track for a second there thiiiiigggghhhs but yeah, footballers, they aren’t a bad looking lot. I like collecting them and what I currently lack in knowing how to order them by position, skill or even team I like looking at who has good hair, who takes a good picture and who seems unsure of where the camera is actually even located.