As my parents (hi Mom & Dad!) are fond of recounting, I basically hated soccer when I was a kid. Why? Because both of my brothers were on a team of which my father was the coach. Every Saturday and Sunday, my pouting face would be dragged to a game, sometimes two. I’d spend most of the time drinking cup after cup of Bug Juice, getting my knees scraped up while playing in the dirt or jumping over tires planted in rows in the ground as part of a makeshift obstacle course. Little did I know then that 25 years later, I’d come to Medellin, Colombia, not just for the Feria de las Flores (the annual 2-week flower festival), but for an Argentina v. Mexico 2011 Under-20 World Cup game.
Although the Under-20 World Cup doesn’t get as much fanfare as the regular World Cup and the matches are a little less skilled and a little more frenetic than those featuring older players, it’s nonetheless exciting to be in a stadium with other soc . . . er . . . fútbol fanatics—especially when the country you’re in doesn’t scoff at the mere idea of the sport. Between the two games yesterday (the earlier of which was between England and North Korea), 22,982 people came out to watch the up-and-coming stars boot the ball around.
Compared to a pro-sports game back home, there were a few interesting differences we picked up on. Most noticeably, no beer or liquor of any kind to be found. Surprising in a country like Colombia where booze and underage drinking is far less of a big deal than it is in the States. There also weren’t any vendors traipsing up and down the stands selling souvenirs or food. We found this amusing because pretty much everywhere else (including on any form of transportation), you can expect to come across someone selling anything from popsicles to rice-plantain-roasted chicken lunch platters in moist plastic bags. Beyond that, there were the usual rowdy catcalls before a corner throw-in or penalty-kick (“Puto!”), a bunch of loud horns being honked throughout the stands, and the stadium was packed with people having a good ol’ time.
In the end (and despite the frequent rain squalls), Argentina beat Mexico with a final score of 1-0. I was pleased as I was rooting for the Argies (Mark was all over Mexico). We’ll see how they fare tomorrow against England.
I guess the real question is . . . will I make the trip back to South America for World Cup 2014? I guess only time will tell.
Dad and I are hoping that some of the other things that we exposed you to won’t take another 25 years to prove us right…..cause we won’t remember what they were.
Um… I guess you never noticed that the man who was coaching MY team for, oh I don’t know- TEN years or so was not definitely NOT your father. Dad was ONLY Brooke’s coach. (Sheeesh) I got stuck with whatever flavor redneck happened to be be in charge that season. Which is ironic because I know waaaaaay more about Architecture now that Brooke does.
Glad you enjoyed the games! Did you think your father was the coach of those teams as well?
Hey. I was 6. Give me a break. grin.
Well, hold on a minute… I have a distinct memory of Dad yelling “Ari! Where are you! Get in there!” Did I make that up?
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