PostHeaderIcon Issa Nissa!


When I first realised that my specialisation in engineering studies (networking and telecommunication) would land me in the French Riviera, despite it’s reputation as a beautiful coastal paradise and the fact that I was extremely delighted to have been given the opportunity to live abroad, deep down inside my heart sank a little. Just a little, though. I would have preferred the colder climate farther north. Everyone knows I love rain more than the sun.

Bref. Fast forward a bit, I arrived in Nice on my 20th birthday after a hard slog from Malaysia. The moment I stepped out of the airport, I began to appreciate the largest city in the French Riviera more and more. Maybe the capital of the Riviera wasn’t a bad idea after all.
And it was just over a month ago.

But you know what? It was something else that really made me realise how much I actually loved the city, and how grateful I was to be here.

It was football.

The very first time I felt genuinely proud to be a Niçois was during the last home game of the season for the local football team OGC Nice (which I had been following a few months prior despite not that seriously). In the sold-out stadium, I sensed something alien to me: the feeling of pride of our city and the joy of togetherness and brotherhood among us, les Niçois. It felt really great. It was fantastic.

Last night was the climax of the race for European football in French Ligue 1, the final round of the season. With PSG, Marseille and Lyon occupying the top three and looking good value for it, the last spot was left to Nice, ASSE and Lille to fight for. The two key matches were Ajaccio vs Nice and Lille vs ASSE. From the start until the end for about two hours, as I was listening to the live radio commentary on the matches, my body trembled and trembled. I was totally tensed and anxious. It was about football. It was about passion. But most importantly, it was about Nice.

We eventually won against Ajaccio, leapfrogging both Lille and ASSE and securing the fourth place (as the match in Lille ended one-all), our greatest ever achievement in 37 years. The ticket into the UEFA Europa League was ours.

With emotions running high, there were times when even I incredibly almost shed a tear or two. Listening to the commentators and fans rejoicing the victory and the great accomplishment, it was hard not to feel good too. It was hard not to be proud of the city. It was hard not to love Nice. Couple that with the unofficial anthem of the city Nissa la Bella, it was virtually impossible not to be moved.

Football, it seemed, had brought me closer to the city of Nice more than anything else. Unbelievable.

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