Whether it’s the Olympics or individual sport championships, world tournaments capture the hearts and support of millions across the globe. As far as competitions go, the FIFA World Cup is more than just a gathering and test of the best football (soccer) national teams. Every four years (and every waking moment in between), millions upon millions of passionate fans pour their hearts and souls into “the beautiful game.” In many ways, the Star Wars fandom resembles the football community due to the drive and dedication both worlds have in common.
Although the sport is gaining more recognition in the Unites States, football is a way of life everywhere else. Most would even say that it’s more than just a game — it’s a religion. For proof, one merely has to glance through a few Star Wars Legends novels, where a similar game exists in the galaxy far, far away. Limmie, also known as bolo-ball or Meshgeroya, is the Star Wars equivalent of football. Making its first appearance in The Crystal Star by Vonda N. McIntyre, the galactic sport took a life of its own and eventually became a favorite among Mandalorians and clone commandos in later novels.
To help celebrate the passion behind football and Limmie in preparation for the FIFA World Cup, which is set to kick off today, this post aims to highlight instances from Star Wars Legends literature that reflect and pay homage to our own football culture.
Rex, even without his distinctive blue-and-white 501st armor, was easy to spot among the ship’s company. He had his helmet clipped to his belt, and he was sporting another new hairstyle. Instead of being shaven to a fine polish, as when Pellaeon had last seen him, his scalp was now covered with short fuzz of blue-dyed hair cut into stripes.
“Very…different, Rex,” Pellaeon said.
Ahsoka leaned over the rail beside Rex, although she had to stand on tiptoe to do it. She twitched her striped head-tails. “Nothing wrong with stripes, sir.”
“Bolo-ball final,” Rex said. “I’m somewhat partisan. Bylluran Athletic.”
— The Clone Wars: No Prisoners by Karen Traviss
Star Wars fans aren’t the only community with a knack for costuming and representing favorite characters. Sports enthusiasts also dress to express, especially football fans. Some wear jerseys of their favorite players, but many more cover themselves in the colors of their national flag or team–Captain Rex of the Torrent Company was no exception. A disciplined soldier and a fearless leader, Rex possessed individualistic traits that differed from those of a standard clone trooper. As a result of his ever growing personality, he chose to demonstrate the support of his favorite team by dying strips of his hair blue. Whether you’ve done the same or expressed your passion through other methods, we can all agree that team and player representation is a football fan’s favorite activity.
Vau went for a high ball and headed it down between two bushes that seemed to be the only goal. He roared triumphantly.
“Offside!” Corr protested. Ny had no idea how he worked out where the goal was, let alone Vau had broken some rule. She didn’t really get the game at all. “Ref, that was offside.”
Parja allowed the goal, pointing imperiously toward a nonexistent center spot. “Wasn’t. Play on.”
“Devious old men one, fit young upstarts nil,” Vau said smugly. But he looked seriously out of breath.
— Imperial Commando: 501st by Karen Traviss
Nothing is more upsetting than seeing the ball hit the back of the net only to find the offside flag up in the air, discounting the much needed point. No, wait. It’s just as upsetting as the ball hitting the back of the net and it being allowed as a goal when the player was actually offside. Not sure what that means? Offside is when a player who only has the opposing goalkeeper between him/her and the goal cannot receive a pass from a teammate. The more you watch the game, the better it is to understand and recognize it.
Many referees have been criticized severely for making bad calls on the pitch, and Parja Bralor was one of them–well, according to ex-clone commando Corr. No matter where you are in the world, football fans (and Star Wars fans, for that matter) are quite outspoken, and with football terminology naturally ingrained into our minds, shouting and hearing the stadium roar during a match is part of the football watching and playing experience.
When her eyes adjusted to the light, she found herself in a cantina full of armored Mandalorians, not all human, helmets stacked under tables. They were watching a big holovid screen in intent, reverent silence, mesmerized by a bolo-ball match.
“Meshgeroya,” Beviin whispered, as if he was interrupting an act of worship. “The beautiful game. Our other national pastime.”
— Legacy of the Force: Revelation by Karen Traviss
Meshgeroya, the Mandalorian word for Limmie, is a sacred game for the armor-clad group. Similar to the characters in the cantina, if you’re not invested in the game, then you lose out on the electrifying thrill that the match naturally has to offer. Sometimes, though, when the excitement is just too much to bear, silence is the most powerful response. Eyes are mesmerized by the movement of the ball and hands are clamped over mouths so as to not jinx the next kick. Without a doubt, the worshipping stares and prayers are universal signatures of someone who should not be disturbed, especially when a match is well underway. Otherwise, a few good blasters may be pointed at you, so tread carefully.
“It’s all they can think about,” Mirta muttered. “I’m glad it’s only once every five years.”
“Galactic bolo-ball tournament. It’s taken over the HoloNet.”
— Legacy of the Force: Revelation by Karen Traviss
The world has never been so connected as it is today. The Star Wars fan community spreads out far and wide, and social media allows us to communicate with each other in ways we couldn’t before. In this digital age, news and updates for just about anything appear instantaneously, and for some, it might be a bit too much. Those who do not share an interest in the beautiful game, for example, may have to suffer from the constant coverage. Just like Mirta Gev muttering about how the bolo-ball tournament took over the HoloNet, our World Cup back on Earth will definitely be a top trending topic for the majority of the summer. That is, until the next World Cup in four years.
If you’re both a Star Wars and football fan, then you must have immeasurable amounts of passion flowing through you. This is the perfect time to be a Star Wars fan, and with the World Cup on the horizon, the excitement is just building all around. No matter what team you’re supporting this summer, whether it’s Bylluran Athletic or a team close to home, remember that we are all part of the same community.
May the Force be with you all and play on!