A big football night last night in the Brits in Bosnia household. Not only was England playing against Croatia (and there are quite a few Croatia supporters who live around here) but Bosnia was playing against Turkey. As Bosnia was once a part of the Ottoman empire and the high proportion of Muslims in Bosnia is as a direct result of that occupation, the links between Bosnia and Turkey remain strong. Bosnian Muslims are often called Turks by the Serbs and Croats in Bosnia. Not only were there strong historical and cultural links to this game, it was also totally vital that Bosnia won if they were to have a chance to go to the World Cup Finals in South Africa next year, which would be their first major footballing championships.
Adam is starting to show quite a bit of interest in football. He enjoys watching people play it, and is full of who we are going to support. We have constant conversations about who the teams are and what colours they wear. As Bosnia wear blue, and so do Chelsea (my family's team) he is very into versions of blue kit. As the day went on and more and more people starting appearing wearing Bosnian kit, he started getting quite excited.
Adam: I'm going to support Bosnia
Me: Good idea darling. I am too. But I'm supporting England in their match against Croatia. Do you remember we saw Croatia the other day. They have a flag with lots of red and white squares on it. Like that one over there.
Adam: What colour is our flag?
Me: do I talk about the Union Jack here or the St. George's cross? The cross is easier, let's run with that one for the moment. It is a red cross on white, like the picture of a knight in your book.
Adam: What colour is Bosnia?
Me: Blue and yellow - look, like that flag over there.
Adam: What happens if England play Bosnia?
Me: Well, we support England.
Adam: I think I want to cheer for Bosnia against England. They wear blue.
Me - in my head: **&&%%&%&&! Who are you kidding? Your grandfathers will never talk to you again! Your father may never talk to you again. I'll never watch an international with you. Supporting the English football team in all their misery and occasional moment of glory is a part of being English, it is what defines us. Then again, this might be the moment when you are spared the abject pain of being a life time England supporter; so hopeful every time, only to be so disappointed - without fail. But on the other hand, the Bosnian football team comes from the same stock, they also have the ability to self implode and clutch defeat from the jaws of a great victory. Arrghgh, what do I say? Bosnia as a second team definitely yes, but to support them over England? What happens if Bosnia qualify for the World Cup and we end up playing them? Does this mean that he thinks he is Bosnian and not English? Is this a good thing, does this show how he has adapted to living here? How can we reinforce a sense of being English whilst we live abroad? How does football define identity? Gosh I can think fast as I haven't even opened my mouth yet in response and my thoughts have covered a lot of ground.
Me: Are you sure? Bosnia is where we live, but we are English so we really should support England.
Adam: Yes. I am going to cheer for Bosnia.
I feel the time may have come for us to consider moving back.