I have a confession to make: I am not a fan of fútbol – or soccer, as it’s know in the U.S. I realize this might not be the smartest thing to say in the middle of the World Cup, and I must say, whenever I mention this, it usually comes as a shock for many. After all, I was born and raised in Mexico where fútbol is the national sport and is a fundamental part of life for a big percentage of the population.
Even though I don’t follow the sport, I have to say there is nothing like watching your national team play the World Cup on the biggest stage and win a game – there’s pride and joy involved, and the emotion that people emanate is palpable, even if you’re not a fan. But what really amazed me this past weekend was the emotion that I felt during the Mexico vs. Argentina match, a match that saw my home team eliminated.
As I watched the game at my favorite local English pub, which by the way has the most delicious fish and chips and a wide selection of beer, for one day I was transported back to Mexico. The place was packed with green, white and red, Mexican flags, horns at hand, and of course, the indispensable Blue Demon wrestling mask was one fan’s tribute to the home team.
The crowd was alive. People were smiling, clapping and cheering for anyone who entered the premises wearing the National Teams colors. Then, the first goal was scored. Yes, the goal where the player was completely offside (I am not a soccer fan, but I know the rules – after all, I am Mexican,) and it felt like a stab in the heart. To add insult to injury, El Tri made a fatal mistake and Argentina scored once again. And just when all hope seemed to be fading, something completely unexpected happened. A few people in the bar started chanting from the top of their lungs: “Ay, ay, ay, ay, canta y no llores, porque cantando se alegran cielito lindo los corazones.” The entire bar joined in – Mexicans, Mexican Americans, Americans, British…everyone. For a few seconds, we were reminding each other – and ourselves – that there was no reason to shed tears, because we could find a way to bring joy to our hearts, even during tough times.
That moment truly stirred a waterfall of emotions in me. It reminded me the true nature of our people – we will look at the glass full even if it’s almost empty. It made me think of home, my family and friends whom I left behind when I moved to the U.S. It reminded me of all the pain and hate that is currently affecting my home country and my current city, Arizona. It made me even more conscious of who I am, the values instilled in me by my parents, and most importantly, who I’ve become as an individual.
The game ended, but not before Mexico’s gol de honor helped us feel better. And even though it was sad to see El Tri get eliminated, we were in good spirits because, as my dear friend Elvira said, thanks to the World Cup we were part of the hope and joy of our people, and for 90 minutes, we were able to forget about the many things that are wrong in the world.
For that, I might start watching fútbol more often.
by Ixchel del Castillo