Murat Ozuzun waited to take his jacket off until his team, Italy, made its winning shot. The Skagway soccer coach was anything but blase about the game. Ozuzun tried to keep his whereabouts under wraps during the championship so he could watch the game uninterrupted, an ambitious endeavor in Skagway. Alas, he ended up with everyone else at the Bonanza. Emily Palm photos

Pockets of Skagway catch World Cup fever

Contrary to current scientific opinion, it is actually a soccer spectator’s steady gaze and impassioned focus giving the ball the kinetic energy to travel down the field. This is especially true during the World Cup.
Whether they admit it or not, fans have a tendency to believe speculative coaching affects the fate of a game. Every fiber of their being centers around that black and white sphere. Many fibers of many beings gathered together for the final match at Bonanza Bar and Grill to be part of the championship between France and Italy on Sunday morning.
According to a pervasive personal poll among at least 20 Skagwegians at bars, the recreation center and elsewhere about town, locals don’t generally get hopped up about the World Cup. Pockets can be found, however, and it seems they all came out to watch the championship game at the Bonanza.
Fans from town and off the cruise ships congregated around the grill’s big screen. The Bonanza opened early for the event, serving and seating at 9:30 a.m.
Local jeweler Murat Ozuzun guessed that 90 percent of those in attendance hailed from Europe. Some individuals in town bring a spark about the event, said Ozuzun, who was rooting for Italy. Soccer teaches respect, discipline, love, sharing, caring, you name it, he said. “It’s an amazing sport,” said Ozuzun, who was born in Turkey.
He coaches the Skagway Panthers and said there are a couple of remarkably talented players. “I’m sure you’re going to see them on TV some day,” he said.

Florin Iuga, a France supporter, wore his Italy shirt inside out in an attempt to bode back luck for the country at the Bonanza.

Roommates Ed Siebel and Ed Coverstone (a double Edder, if you will) represent a portion of World Cup followers in Skagway. They watched many games at the recreation center. “I wish it was more popular here in America,” said Siebel, a St. Louis seasonal transplant in Skagway.
Cindy Schulte, a summer Skagwegian from Seattle and fellow World Cup enthusiast had been rooting for Ecuador. “I was there when they qualified,” she said, “They were maniacs.”
Americans in general don’t get too into soccer, said Josh Melani from the U.S. Virgin Islands and a summer local. The World Cup is a big deal for his family in Venezuela. “I’m vying for Italy to beat France,” he said before the championship, adding that Italy didn’t deserve to lose four years ago. “They’re hungry for it.”
The final game satiated Italy’s appetite. “This is nothing,” said Ozuzun, comparing the roaring Bonanza crowd to any pub in Europe. He went home a happy man when Italy defeated France in a shootout after a 1-1 tie, calling the game phenomenal. Not all shared Ozuzun’s sentiments, especially after the red card for the French captain. A few defeated-feeling French fans slunk home to crawl into the fetal position and lick their wounds.
Regardless of individual desire towards the outcome, the crowd exuded a resounding “good game” for the close match.

Ritesh Femandes of India (red Portugal shift) blocks a pass by Zoltan Povazsay of Hungary (left) to a fellow crew member off the Island Princess during a game last week at Seven Pastures field. JB

Cruise crews play own World Cup at Seven Pastures soccer field
Men who ordinarily ooze machismo wear hearts on their sleeves like national flags when it comes to the World Cup.
“We cry like a baby,” said Javier Facey Maxacel, when beloved teams lose their chance for the holy grail of soccer. Maxacel has played the game since exiting the womb in Costa Rica, he said. He works for the Norwegian Wind cruise ship and plays regularly with a posse of employees who are just as passionate about what is properly called “football.”
Though out at sea, international cruise ship employees kept up with the World Cup this year in mind, body and spirit.
Volendam Engineer Jason Grimes, who hails from Liverpool, England, watched the match between Portugal and Germany with some Dutch and English buddies in the officer’s bar on board the ship.
“We’re engineers, we don’t cry,” he stated matter-of-factly about his emotions towards the game. Rather, they get angry and annoyed, he said.
Since Portugal knocked out England and the Netherlands, the circle of friends was rooting for Germany to win the match for third place. “Portugal is a dirty, diving, cheating, I won’t use the next word,” said Grimes.
Huddled around the TV on their lunch break, the men bantered back and forth. Grimes wishes he was there.. He would have been, but was out to sea during World Cup in order to be home in England later this summer when his wife gives birth. “It’s a good thing you’re here,” laughed fellow engineer Bart Peters, “otherwise you’d be arrested in Germany.”
Watching the sport on the ship riles up desires to dribble and kick the ball into the net. When cruise ships dock in Skagway, crew staff eagerly don their land legs and head to the Seven Pastures soccer field to play their favorite game.
On a Thursday afternoon, in a light rain, members from three ships ride to the field on a SMART bus.
“Right after (watching World Cup), I always want to play,” said Zoltan Povazsay from Hungary, a crew member on the Norwegian Wind. Seeing the pros invokes the feeling that they can play like them, he said, at least until getting on the field.
The players expressed gratitude to the city of Skagway for use of the field, said Martin Waschek from Slovakia. “They always help us,” said Waschek, who works for Norwegian Wind. In turn the players try to leave the field cleaner than when they found it.
Amiable attitudes prevail during the pickup games, they said. They watch out for one another, said Waschek and Maxacel, because even a broken toe would render an employee unable to work and send them home.

Jason Grimes watches the Germany-Portugal game at the officers’ bar on the Volendam.

The cruise lines support their playing, said Povazsay. It’s a good activity, he said, noting it is healthier than drinking. The cruise lines supply uniforms, balls and water for the players.
Spectators of the games may have noticed a lack of women on the field. “We don’t really like women coming in,” said Povazsay, because he feels they have to take care of them. “We can’t play our regular tough men’s game.” Women on the ship aren’t terribly interested in playing, said Povazsay. It is kind of sexist, acknowledged Gary Cain from England.
When there are no games to watch and the field is nautical miles away, they play soccer on X-box, said Cain. “It can get competitive,” said Cain of the video game, “I don’t like to lose.”
A popular place that cruise workers kept up with the championship games was Ports of Call, a business where one can find the pickled walnuts, satay sauce, and/or dry roasted chickpeas for which they have been yearning.
When tourists disembark the boats to stroll and shop along Broadway, cruise ship staff file through the storefront on Second Avenue. They use the Internet and rent black phones that plug into a wall along the front porch to touch base with family and friends across the globe.
Clustered around a 14-inch television sitting atop a Sobe cooler in the center of the store, “futbol” fanatics cheered their teams on during the recent competition for the World Cup.

Keeper Martin Waschek of the Norwegian Wind protects his goal. JB

Phyllis Massiah paused from her patronizing of Ports of Call recently to chat about the World Cup. The Belize native was rooting for Portugal.
“They were playing a little dirty,” she said, “But I don’t think they cheated.”
The underdogs also had at least one fan from India, Ritesh Femandes, who sported a Portugal team jersey while he played on the Seven Pasture field for the Island Princess team.
Among those representing the Norwegian Wind were players from Slovakia, India, Costa Rica, Honduras, Romania, and Indonesia.
The number of nationalities regularly represented on the Seven Pastures soccer field demonstrates the universal nature of the game. Regardless of political or atmospheric climates, Skagway provides a place to play.
“It’s the greatest sport on God’s green earth,” said Cain.