The converse side of that is the passion and joy that we’re seeing among the Indonesian fans who have gotten a chance to see Gunners, not just in press conferences or on the pitch, but face to face as more than just player in Arsenal kits—that is, as people in the flesh. That bond, that connection, is a huge part of what sport is all about. If I ever do make it to see Arsenal play and get beer spilled on me and chant and cheer until my throat bleeds, I want to look around and see not just Englishmen, Scots, and Irishmen, but Indonesian and Japanese and Vietnamese Gooners just as delirious as I am. We may not all speak the same language but we’ll be breathing the same air and feeling the same pulsing rhythm in our hearts. A large debt is due to Arsène, not just for bringing stylish football to England, but for popularizing foreign players. Much as we might fault his proclivity for seeking out Francophone players, he was among the first to see the importance of finding the best and bringing them to the Prem, strengthening not just Arsenal but British football as well. Perhaps this tour will inspire the first Indonesian or Indian footballer to come to the Emirates someday soon.
It blows my mind to see the passion of fans who turned out to watch a simple training session—they’re more worked up (and perhaps more numerous) than the turn-out for an actual match (well, maybe an early FA or league cup match, but you get my point). I can’t wait to see the Indonesia Dream Team take on Arsenal today. We might not be able to watch it live, but a replay will be available to everyone at Arsenal Player sometime around 4:30pm (London Time).
We can look around and check our twitter feeds and facebook pages and see activity from Malaysia, England, Nigeria, Bangladesh, India, Ireland, Canada, Russia, Vietnam, Japan, France, America, Indonesia and more than I can list and realize that, whatever our nationality, ethnicity, religion, language, politics, gender, or almost any other label we’re known by or labelled as, we’re all Gooners as well. That is a glorious, glorious feeling to have—and to know it’s a feeling that millions around the world share is just sublime.