Waru: the Hero of this World Cup!

Photo: Sofieke van Bilsen @DFB_Frauen

Anyone on WOSO Twitter will tell you what the most pressing question around the World Cup is not who is going to win and it’s not who will win the golden boot (or head with rate the players are scoring with their bonce). No, the question on everyone’s lips is where is Waru?  What is Waru doing?  

Waru for those who have not discovered this delightful aspect of the tournament is the crocheted ( NOT KNITTED) koala,  the mascot of the German national team. Made by the forward Klara Buehl, wearing the shirt of Carolin Simon, the injured defender. Named after the aboriginal word meaning fire, the team has adopted the bundle of yarn and stuffing with great aplomb. 

Pictures started circling of Waru warming the bench in the game against Morroco. Tucked snugly into Oberdorf’s warm-up jacket. 

Since then we have seen Waru play golf, on the beach and as Popp’s snuggle buddy on a plane. An obsession has started. There is Waru watch, and Twitter users waiting for the first sighting. Interviews in German pressers for the little Munchkin and we are all in love. 

It especially makes my heart sing as a fellow crocheter. Plus craft and sport go hand in hand. Trust me! 

Photo: Sofieke van Bilsen @DFB_Frauen

I come from a crafty family (as in making stuff not just because we come from East London). My mum knits and her aunt knit and crochet. My Nan on my dad’s side was a professional seamstress. It was in my DNA to make things. Expect my dyspraxic brain couldn’t quite pick up the two needles. Just ended up with lots of knots. 

I then met my crafty wife (again a maker and not that she will steal what little money I have).  There with a little love and A LOT of patience, I learnt to crochet.

Craft is proving to have a big impact on sports and I can see why. Buehl herself said crochet is relaxing. Helps her after each game to wind down. ‘It’s an old lady hobby but I enjoy it’ she said recently. Other teams have also adopted this rather innocent activity for post game stress. The Lionesses have a craft room to go with their game room. Where they can paint, colour and even do bracelet making. Taking it back to basics, almost childlike.

Craft is a good mental exercise for a professional athlete. That is a hill I am willing to die on. It sharpens your logic skills as reading patterns is no mean feat. If you know where to put your hook in a project. The better you are at knowing where to put your foot when tackling. 

It also chills you out, the focus is simply on what you are doing and not what lies ahead of you. 

Why Waru though specifically? Why have we all fallen in love with the little koala in the little jersey? 

It’s the joy that it brings out in the players. A tournament is a pressure cooker of emotions. Everything is so serious and dour. Life and death. Do or die. There is no try etc.

So to see such serious professional athletes revert to childish glee. It humanises those who seem so untouchable. 

Photo: Sofieke van Bilsen @DFB_Frauen

Waru’s main appeal is the story. This is not something bought or fan-given (though that would be adorable) but has ice from within the team. Buehl learnt to crochet when she caught COVID during the Euros. There she made small medallions for her teammates to cure the boredom of quarantine. I understand as I do the same to cure the boredom of travelling the M6 every other weekend. 

Side bar a friend told me I was the epitome of non binarism as I crochet on my way to football. But that’s by the by. 

I suppose my love of Waru comes from the fact the first thing I made for my now Wife was a Koala in West Ham colours. Her nickname for me due to our height difference, I looked like a koala clinging to the eucalyptus when we cuddled. 

It is with a sad heart that we see Germany out of the tournament. Brilliant athletes, number two ranked in the world. Unexpectedly out at the group stage. They gave us something special this World Cup. 

From one Koala to another. 

Waru we hardly knew ye.

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