Time stood still today. Romanian minds started buzzing as early as yesterday after every soul in this country heard that the new National Stadium, the “National Arena”, will open its doors for a whole night. Whole generations started literary marching towards the late Lia Manoliu Stadium district, hoping to get a glimpse of Hope. Because, to be fairly honest with you, this is what today is all about. Hope. Hope for a den to the wounded animal that our National team has become in the past years, hope for a pilgrimage sanctuary to a Nation that has football as its only positive showcase in the world. Sometimes. Too often. Hope for better times, shared with twenty three million Romanians, united as one.
Curious bystanders took a look, supporters came from across town or even across the country, but most importantly, families are back to where they always belonged in the Romanian culture and tradition, the stadium. Their stadium. From newborns to seniors, from couples to whole families, everyone gathered and took a seat. In a joyful and relaxed ambiance, the crowd inhaled a breeze that hasn’t blown in a long time across Romania. As the night was falling, lights were turning on, colors were getting more intense, people were applauding and chanting, waving their Tricolor flags, in the rhythm of old-school but still widely loved songs, blasting from the high quality speakers that will soon announce line-ups and goal scorers (hopefully ours).
Around two hundred thousand people are expected to set foot in the National Arena by tomorrow morning. By midnight, half that number was already reached. The neighborhood was swamped but, strange enough to be noticed, no one was mad about it. Everyone new that the air they were breathing was different tonight. Hope was in that air. And as I was getting home, that excitement would not settle down. And it still hasn’t. I don’t want it to and I truly believe I’m not the only one.
All we need now is a team that won’t let our hopes down. Hai Romania!!