Jerrad Peters wants you to get excited about the upcoming World Cup in South Africa.
“It’s the biggest cultural gathering in the world,” the 26-year old soccer columnist for the Winnipeg Free Press and senior writer at Soccer 360 magazine said in a recent interview at his office.
“It’s far, far bigger than the Olympics, and far bigger than any music festival or film festival.”
Raised on NHL hockey, Peters first got into soccer during the 2002 World Cup.
Riveted by the sport, he launched his journalistic career by blogging and writing columns for soccer magazines.
Today, Peters is a soccer evangelist. He is eager to spread his passion for the game we call soccer – and the rest of the world calls football – to a North American audience.
That’s why he recently published his first book on the rampantly popular game.
We Call It Soccer: Understanding The World’s Most Popular Sport is a lively, clear and concise handbook aimed directly at helping a North American audience understand, appreciate and enjoy the game that already has the rest of the world fired up.
“The idea of the book was, in the run-up to this World Cup, to help people have an easy way to learn a lot about the sport in a very short period of time. Hopefully they’ll stick with it and have some general understanding about it,” Peters said.
In the span of 50 engaging chapters, the book covers the basics like the divergent playing styles of different countries, the development of soccer in North America, how players are traded between clubs and the current stars of the game.
But it also offers wildly entertaining oddities and curiosities that even the most fervent of fans may not know.
Have you ever wondered if African teams really practice black magic to improve their game? Did you know that over 120, 000 bodies worship Argentinean icon Diego Maradona at the Church of Maradona? Or that there is a World Cup for the homeless?
These are but a few questions Peters tackles head on to make the read not only informative, but also entertaining.
“ The beautiful thing about the World Cup is that regardless of political situation, every country in the world that cares enough about the sport to have a national association is included.
Jerrad Peters, soccer writer
“There’s so many little things all over the world that are very interesting that you never imagine would actually happen, so I tried to tell a few of those stories.”
But the main thing Peters would like readers and budding soccer fans to know is that soccer differs primarily from mainstream North American sports in the way it conducts business.
“I want people to know that club soccer is a completely different enterprise than a North American franchise,” Peters said. “It’s a fundamentally different business setup, and understanding the difference is vital in really having a fundamental understanding of how club soccer works.”
Peters is also quick to point out the miracle of the sport: the ability to bring peoples together that would otherwise shy away from each other.
“Soccer is so inclusive. You don’t have major national gatherings that openly include North Korea and the United States at the same table, or in previous World Cups, Iran and the United States,” he said.
“The beautiful thing about the World Cup is that regardless of political situation, every country in the world that cares enough about the sport to have a national association is included.”
So who should you put your money on come the World Cup kick-off on June 11?
“Brazil,” Peters said. “This isn’t your typical Brazil team of flare and flamboyance. It’s very organized. Everything is set for them, and not having those question marks coming into the World Cup is huge.”
And if you’re still not sure whether you want to jump into the world of soccer, Peters has some advice.
“Go hang out on Corydon Avenue at noon before or after an Italy game this summer. Whether or not you like soccer, you’ll have fun!”