My Sportsman: Iraqi soccer team
Iraq won. Note the sentence structure. Iraq (subject) won (verb), and here comes the most important part --the period. End of sentence. Now think about it for a minute: When was the last time you saw "Iraq" not followed by a word like war, dead, killed, violence, soldier, troops, much less followed by won?
In the 71st minute of the Asian Cup finals in July, an Iraqi Kurd named
I won't pretend I can tell the difference between the beautiful game from
The truly astounding part of
Then, as their time to represent their country came, the US toppled Hussein and sparked a war, eventually forcing them to redefine home as Jordan. They had no coach until two months before the Asian Cup and he promptly quit, citing the preservation of his sanity as his reason for resigning. When there weren't logistical challenges, there were emotional ones. Each member of the team lost a loved one in a bombing or shooting.
I'm not naïve enough to think this win would bring about lasting change: The Iraqi team overcame these obstacles; they did not abolish them. As if to underscore how temporary the joy of victory was, at least four people died from "happy fire" as fans shot bullets into the air in celebration. It seems even that winning is bloody there.
But for 90 minutes, 22 men -- Kurds, Sunnis and Shiite -- wore the same uniform, aimed for the same goal, and it worked. It