I made my first Icelandic friend one year ago on a flight from Copenhagen to New York. Thor is quite a powerful name for a person; during the flight he gave me as much geographic and political knowledge of Iceland as possible. Recently the country came in news for 2 reasons – Panama papers and Euro 2016. Latter is of much interest to me and the former one is quite obvious. It’s just that Gunnlaugsson got caught and many others weren’t.
Enter Euro 2016 and Iceland – a minnow team won the hearts with gameplay, enthusiasm and the celebrations. The country with 325,000 people didn’t have the ample terrain to play and practice football but in last 10 years they have come far and overcame the obstacles. The viking blood races on the ground and the crowd support supplements the energy. The two positive words that I have learned duglegur – industrious and gleðitár – tears of joy, they sum up the matches of Iceland versus any team. The thunder claps electrified and united them. One thing that I learned while watching a brief documentary on Icelandic football is that the coaches(yes they have multiple coaches) of the team interact with the crowd in a closed room or a bar and announces the team to them before they announce it to Euro officials, they let the supporters know who is playing and what they are trying to achieve with the set of chosen players. To me, this is an astounding and wonderful principle of inclusion. It is natural for the crowd to feel that they are part of the team in this case. 8% of the population flew to France to watch the games.
The emotions run high in these otherwise taciturn people and I have a feeling that Island(Iceland) players before entering the field would say loudly “Tonight we dine in Valhalla”