I’m not talking about the kind of passion that allows me to engage in endless conversations about technicalities, quoting the rulebook without batting an eyelash.
I’m talking about the kind of passion that rises up every two years when I watch the German National Team play the European and World Cups. It’s the only time my nationality gets the better of me.
My passion for football on an international level is one of the many things that mystify my husband.
I am therefore doubly delighted when I receive a photography anthology as a birthday present from an equally football-devoted friend. Surely nothing goes together less than “football” and “coffee table book” but that’s exactly what it is. In 403 glorious colour pages, One Night in Rio details the German Team winning the 2014 World Cup from the final whistle to partying on South American soil to traveling home to celebrate with their fans. A book of pictures telling an emotional victory beyond what words can capture.
But what strikes me more than all the photographs is a transcript inconspicuously tucked away at the very end of the book. It bears no explanation. It is an email sent by photographer Paul Ripke to the manager of the German Team the day after the iconic semi-final win over the host country Brazil. A plea to be allowed to document the team’s final win – a game that is yet to be played.
Now I’m well familiar with the feeling of wanting something so much that you’d do no matter what to get it. Problem is, I have not truly connected to that feeling in a rather long time. Instead, I have been hanging out in what Dr Seuss calls “The Waiting Place”. Waiting for one project in my life to “work out” before fully committing to others.
Mesmerized, I read and reread the words.
In a nutshell, Ripke outlines his desire to visually commemorate the German World Cup win. “This is going to be a moment that none of us will ever forget, and I could never forgive myself if it wasn’t adequately captured in images”, he says.
He goes on to list and refute a number of possible objections, including travel, accommodation (“I will bring a tent”), meals (“I won’t eat, I need to lose weight anyway”) and other logistics. Lastly, he says, “If it is a matter of my looks, I will shave and get the haircut of your choosing.”
That email gets the desired reply:
Relax. Leave your hair as is and come.
We shoot the goals, you the pictures.
I search online for the full story. Basically the compilation that is my gift was made possible by the tenacity of one photographer pursuing his dream to capture the German Team’s World Cup celebrations for posterity. Pictures taken for the sake of memories. He wasn’t there on a press assignment. He wasn’t taking images for social media, or even for creating the very book I am holding in my hands. And because he wasn’t any of that, he was treated like a member of the team, getting access to players and situations that where far out of the reach of other photographers and journalists.
Most importantly, Ripke did whatever he could to pursue his dream, including offering to travel and work at his own expense.
Including sending that one last email after previous, presumably unanswered or unfavourable attempts.
Now THAT is inspiring.
Little did my friend know he was giving me a present much beyond the good memories of a great tournament.
Thank you Peter!
Images: neoseeker.com, 11freunde.de