On July 29, 2007 Iraq became a united nation- no, it wasn’t a political or military move, it was a union brought forth by the game of football (or soccer for those in America). Iraq won the prestigious Asia Cup for the first time since the competition began in 1956.
To say that Iraq’s win was a shock is an understatement, to say the least. It has been likened to a pure miracle. With a country that has been ravaged by war, it would only be fitting to assume that the teams’ morale was low. However, their win shows that even under the most extreme adversities, the human spirit can and will overcome tragedy. With triumphant jubilee, the Iraq team joined forces and beat the three time winning Saudi Arabians in seizing the championship.
With a 1-0 victory, the winning score was a header by the Iraqi’s captain, Younis Mahmoud. After the header, Hawar Mulla Mohammed kicked the soccer ball and the Saudi Arabian goalkeeper; Al Mosailem missed his chance at saving the Saudis from defeat. Iraqi captain, Younis Mahmoud will no doubt live in infamy for his winning play. When the team realized that they were the champions, they ran across the soccer field then overwhelmed with joy, collapsed in a pile on the ground.
The victory did not replace many of the player’s sadness. Undoubtedly, it did help to redefine their strength and unite them as a nation again. Death, war, and tragedy followed the Iraqis from the pre- tournament games, to the post match parties. Some of the players’ family members were killed before the tournament, and during the post match the Iraqi team coach, Jorvan Vieira, remembered team phsyio Anwar. Anwar was killed as he collected tickets for the pre-tournament training camp. Sadness, grief, and loss have become synonymous with the Iraqis.
However, the jubilant cheers of a war-torn nation, whose victory now reveals their nation in a new light, has temporarily overshadowed their sorrow. Iraq will always be declared the winner in the 2007 Asia Cup, a testament that defies all logic, reason, and is a true declaration of the human spirit and resilience of the Iraqi people. Against all odds, and in the midst of violence and bloodshed, the team gathered their resources and pulled themselves out of the miry trenches to soar with the wings of eagles as they reign in victory.
The Prime Minister of Iraq, Nouri al- Maliki’s office made the statement that each player of the winning Iraqi team will receive 10,000 for their participation. Though I am sure that each player will enjoy the money, and that their families will benefit greatly from the sum, I believe that each player earned something more valuable. The experience of winning the coveted Asia Cup while facing tremendous hardships, tragedies, and opposition is a feat that cannot be measured in monetary value. The human spirit and its will to conquer above tragedy, to endure in the time of crisis, and to overcome all obstacles that are put in our path, measure it. The Iraqi team won more than the Asia Cup, they won the greatest victory of all; triumph of the human spirit.