The buzz of the Euros 2016 Football tournament over the past few weeks here in Ireland has been nothing short than invigorating. Having successfully qualified, the Irish team made it through to final-16. However, they played France on Sunday 26 June and were beaten with a 2:1 score.
Having the ability to stay positive and make the best of every situation is an admirable quality. And even though the Irish squad lost out to France, that is exactly what the Irish team and supporters achieved.
The team played brilliantly and although their dreams were dashed, everyone agreed they should feel very proud. It was so inspiring to hear people talk about what the squad had realised instead of focusing on their defeat.
There was something else about this group of players and fans that was very uplifting, making the loss seem not so bad. A feeling of pride, love and joy was very prevalent amongst the green army of supporters around the streets of France during the competition.
Their enthusiasm was quite contagious as they began to charm the French people over the two weeks. The scenes involved fans serenading a young French woman to singing hymns to a nun on a train, dancing and singing with opposing teams and even the French police. They even helped an elderly couple change a tyre on their car and cleaned up after themselves too.
In recognition of their excellent behaviour, the Irish supporters were rewarded with a lot of positive coverage in the French and International media. The Lord Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo wrote to the President of Ireland, Michael Higgins informing him of her decision to award the fans the “Medal of the City of Paris” at a special ceremony in recognition of their exemplary attitude during the tournament. This is a very prestigious award, which is only granted occasionally by the city of Paris.
The one point that I have been reminded about most from reading this story is that “every cloud has a silver lining”. We may not think it at the time, but if we remember to focus on what we have achieved, it will give us the determination to take pride in ourselves, remain positive and play to our strengths.
And no better people to prove this fact are the Irish fans of Euros 2016 where it was very evident to see the positive effect the Irish charm had on the people of France. I would like to think it has helped to bring back the fun and vibrancy in these French cities after such a horrendous and bleak experience over recent months. Let us hope we can continue to replicate these great vibes time and time again.