Today I add to the Offside Memories contributions pool:
I’ve never been sporty. For the most part, I live completely oblivious of sports. The sports section is the only one I don’t care to read when I reach for the newspaper. However, there are two sports events that I sort of pay attention to—the Olympics and the World Cup.
El Mundial, the FIFA World Cup, is in full swing right now and thanks to online streaming, I’ve been following the South American teams. That’s only natural. My home country didn’t make it but a whole bunch of its neighbors did: Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Argentina, Uruguay, and the host, Brazil. They are all my “favorite team.”
Watching them play is ideal, but I’d rather listen to their games, especially if the transmission comes from a certain radio from Peru. The way they narrate a game and celebrate the goals take me back to my childhood and to the fútbol I grew up with. Not that I played or was interested. Fútbol championship games were something that interfered with my favorite TV programs. Also, back then and back there, fútbol was a boy thing.
The fútbol I remember and the one I associate with el Mundial doesn’t have anything to do with soccer. Soccer is American. It brings up to mind terms like soccer mom, helicopter parents, and shuttling children around. It’s organized, scheduled, played in proper soccer fields. The fútbol games of my memories were pure play, spontaneous, impromptu, a spur of the moment, a way to fill up some free time. A group of boys, los muchachos del barrio, getting together on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Fútbol was played not in parks or manicured fields, but in backstreets, dead-end streets, in el callejón, on pavement or dirt. Now, when I watch or listen to a World Cup game where any of the South American teams are playing, I think of those kids, those boys, and I’m certain that back then more than one dreamt of playing in El Mundial.