Sports

Kitsap's diehard soccer fans going all out for 2010 World Cup

Bremerton firefighter Seth Jackson, with his 2-year-old son, Dorwin, will host World Cup viewing parties each day throughout the tournament, beginning Friday. - Wesley Remmer/staff photo
Bremerton firefighter Seth Jackson, with his 2-year-old son, Dorwin, will host World Cup viewing parties each day throughout the tournament, beginning Friday.
— image credit: Wesley Remmer/staff photo

Seth Jackson will wake up at 4 a.m., scream at the television until mid-afternoon and complete a 47-step routine that includes shoveling dog poop.

He’ll do that every day for a month, beginning Friday, and he will leave the house only when he must.

Jackson is on vacation.

“This guy is nuts,” he joked about what people may think.

The Bremerton firefighter from Station 3 has a passion for soccer, particularly the FIFA World Cup, that goes well beyond casual viewing.

For this reason he will devote his entire vacation to watching the tournament.

The World Cup is played once every four years and is a tournament between the national soccer teams of 32 countries. Teams qualify by defeating opponents within their geographical area during preliminary rounds. Italy won the Cup in 2006. The U.S. has never placed first.

Jackson, 30, is one of the many Kitsap residents preparing for the world’s most prestigious soccer tournament.

He plans to watch every game — live — between Friday and July 11, opening his house to friends and fellow soccer fanatics daily. The married father of one, who also played host during the 2006 World Cup, throws viewing parties like none other.

There is a World Cup scoreboard, with standings, hanging from the wall near the entrance to Jackson’s home. Next to the standings board a coffee table is lined with about 15 soccer magazines.

An American flag stretches the length of Jackson’s garage doors, and a large inflatable soccer ball, visible from a block away, rests atop the roof.

It’s a sacred collection for a man who says there is no sporting event as spectacular as the World Cup.

“It’s the passion,” he said. “There’s nothing like it — the pride of each nation, the spirit, the intensity.”

Jackson’s tournament routine begins at 4 a.m., 30 minutes before the day’s first match, at which time he hoists soccer flags up across his house and checks supplies before fans arrive. He prepares slideshows and food and cues the television so he can record the games.

The house opens at 6 a.m., and from that point on, Jackson’s duties include re-stocking drink and food supplies, draining coolers and playing music. He also lets his dog outside, puts the cat upstairs, empties the garbage and cooks.

Jackson prepares food for his guests, serving cuisine from the countries participating in the tournament. The menu is based on which teams are playing.

The meal will be simple, Jackson said, when the United States and England square off Saturday — fish and chips, to represent England, and hamburgers and summer salad, to represent the U.S.

“Middle-Eastern countries have the most difficult food to prepare, from what I’ve found,” said Jackson, who will make everything from empanadas to pumpkin fritters to churros throughout the tournament.

When the final game is over — there are three matches most days — Jackson begins preparations for the next day’s action. He does most of the prep cooking, vacuums, cleans the bathroom, wipes down countertops and ensures the front yard is clean.

“I definitely couldn’t do this every year,” he said of the time, money and effort it takes.

Jackson isn’t the only diehard around.

Steve Haggerty, a longtime soccer coach at Olympic High School, also will wake up before the birds for the next 30 days.

“My life goes on hold for about a month, let’s just put it that way,” Haggerty said.

Haggerty prefers to watch from the confines of his couch, often times alone. That doesn’t mean he won’t go to a watering hole for some of the games, but, “If I showed up at the bar at 4 a.m. and came home three games later, I’d be in trouble at home.”

The 55-year-old follows his 4 a.m. wake-up call with a cup of tea, heading directly to the sofa for the first match of the day.

He has many reasons for watching the tournament.

But, like Jackson, it’s the passion of the players and coaches — and the tactics they use — that draw him in. Haggerty doesn’t care so much about who wins. He’d rather see quality soccer.

“These players are carrying the hopes of entire countries on their shoulders,” he said. “There’s so much passion involved.”

Fans like Jackson and Haggerty have no problem waking up early, and they enjoy it, because there’s so much anticipation leading up to the tournament.

Jackson, who might be the only man in the county whose vacation is based around cleaning and preparing and waking up early, wouldn’t have it any other way.

“It’s definitely a labor of love,” he said.

Join the party

Seth Jackson prepares cuisine from the countries participating in the World Cup, serving his guests.

With an open-door policy, Jackson invites soccer fans to join him and friends during the month-long tournament.

He watches all games live, beginning at 4:30 a.m.

Interested? Send him an e-mail: Sunnhawk@msn.com.

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