Roman Abramovich Cares

Ruthless, autocratic, and seemingly aloof feed the opinion that the Russian billionaire cares little for the club, but this may not be the case.

 

My parents were very supportive of my youth soccer career. They attended nearly every game from Kindergarten through high school and made sure that I attended every practice. They organized pizza parties and help fund the team through materials and equipment. My father coached a number of my teams and my mother often made the team banners.

I can recall looking to the sideline and seeing my dad, red-faced, screaming “GET IT OWWWWWWWUT!!!!!!!!!!” at the top of his lungs, repeatedly; what we were doing on the field made him a madman until we cleared the ball out of our defense. At ten years old, this could take a while.

Occasionally, I’d catch him throw his clipboard down into the ground, not unlike Arséne Wenger does with a water bottle. I can’t explain how, but in the heated moments, my father’s glasses would fly off his face like a bird with a broken wing. He wasn’t tossing them like he did the clipboard, so my only guess is that it was from the radiating pulses of the fit originating in his temples.

When the game became too intense, my mom couldn’t watch. If we were taking a penalty kick she would turn around and walk a straight line away from the field until it was over.

More often, I’d also catch my mother on the sideline contorted into a position as if she was just about to kick an invisible ball. Her weight distribution wasn’t right, but she created a well-mapped conversion of what was taking place on the pitch. She was feeling and visualization what we should do or were about to do. This was her version of “Get it out”.

Deeply invested in the game, her contribution was to enact a series of desired motions and silent physical expressions.

Not unlike Roman Abramovich. The Russian seldom speaks to the media, remains inconspicuous, and at times prefers his yacht (who wouldn’t) to the owner’s box. When present, his shadowy public support has been interpreted as indifference or as a waning interest in his plaything. But there is sensitivity and emotional connection in that disconcertingly cuddly face. Now and again we see it.

3/23/11

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