Museums can be a great place to get an education outside the classroom. I used to work at the Bridgeport Discovery Museum and Planetarium but that’s a story for another post. The museum I want to talk about here is a new one, opened in 2016. It attracts all ages with the love of Football. And I don’t mean the American Football, the true football as it started, the one that you kick the fall with your foot, not through it with your arms.
The FIFA World Football Museum in Zurich Switzerland captivates audiences of young, old, boys and girls. It shows all the different jerseys from the various teams. Oh! And fun fact, anyone visiting during the World Cup wearing a jersey from their favorite team gets free entry. You learn about the history of how it started in various ancient cultures. How the rules were established. And changed. The game evolved so much that the one played today would not be recognized as it started 100’s of years ago.
The second-floor highlights each of the world cups. It has artifacts such as jerseys, referee cards, souvenir coins, old tickets, programs, fan paraphernalia. Stories galore. All in 4 different languages in audio or visual. This allows it to be accessible to many different nations and different types of learners.
Not only did the multiple means of information intake help, it also kept you on your feet walking around. There were also selfie stations, options to provide commentary to the match, watch replays of epic games, flick through player profiles. And my favorite, reach into a dark box and with your hands determine which mascot you were blindly touching. The floor finished with an 8-minute rollercoaster of a video that took you through the highs and lows of the history of the sport.
The one thing I wasn’t excited about, and which was no fault of the museum was the lack of Women’s world cup. The men started in 1930 and the women in 1991. There were just fewer Women’s World Cups so there was less information to display. But the visual of the men’s arcing around the whole room and women’s information only taking a small fraction of the spaces was a stark reminder of how the sport was very male dominated for years.
The final floor was the best for kids. It has foosball tables, games, and tons of interactives. There were boxes filled with memorabilia from various games given as gifts by fans of the sports. There are many that remain open, waiting for more items, do you have a donation
Another example of access to many different learners, they had videos of life-size members of the soccer community. Players, referees, fans. Women, men, old and young. They always paired each option with someone as different as could be to show the range that the sport impacts. I loved hearing about the first women referee from Morocco, Lamyaa Lourahi. She said the road was hard as she played in the streets with the boys against her father’s wishes. After mastering the rules and earning her titles, her father couldn’t be more proud. Then the lawyer from Brazil who swore he would live in only green and yellow if Brazil won. Now much to his wife’s dismay, every item in his wardrobe and decor in their house is a testament to his love for the sport.
In the center of the top room were footballs from different nations. All over the world. Many of them hit me to the core as a flashback to Tanzania. I remember seeing these kids playing soccer, with an ball that was unraveling. As I walked closer, I realized the ball was made out of plastic tied together with bailing twine. They did not have a soccer ball. This did not hinder the enthusiasm for the players at all. So to see the soccer balls from various nations proudly on display made of various materials, plastic, cotton, many other woven materials, it really highlighted how this game was one for the people. It brought together kids, adults, those of all ages and backgrounds. No common verbal language was needed because the language of soccer was being spoken.
Cool examples about how soccer brings people together and makes the world a better place
So, what did we learn at the museum? A bit about the history of the game. But what is more important, is what we learn on the soccer field. We learn to work together as a team. We learn to accept people of all different backgrounds, races, religions and economic status. We learn that we win. And we lose. But the most important lesson is to learn.