Fútbol and Family

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I’m pretty sure I don’t yet have a post devoted solely to fútbol (soccer) yet, and that needs to change! Here in Mexico, fútbol is huge, as I’m sure y’all know. Not everyone plays, but everyone rallies around it. In my house, there are 2 major factions–America and Cruz Azul. There are also a couple of kids who support Chivas, but they’re rare in this house. To be honest, I don’t always know who’s who or which team I should support, but it’s just part of life here! The house dad watches games with the kids–sometimes late into the night if it’s an especially crucial game. They all tease each other about liking opposite teams. In fact, one of my fellow interns bought a Cruz Azul jersey, and you should see the reactions he gets! He’s either everyone’s best friend or worst enemy! He told me that two of the guys in his house saw him walk in with that jersey and immediately told him to get out. My house dad saw him in the jersey yesterday and gave him a hard time about it. But it’s all in fun. To me, it’s like the Cardinal/Cubs rivalry that all St. Louisans know so well.

Another aspect of fútbol is the weekly games we have against the work groups that come down from the States. My roommate and I, though from the US, get to play on the Mexican team with our house! It’s so much fun! Last week, I came in late, and my house mom said, “Sarah, great! We need you! We’re losing!” We don’t lose. And we didn’t that night, though it came down to a tie in the last few minutes with the next goal to end of the game. It was rather intense, but when we all went in to eat afterwards, it was just like another huge family meal.

We also often go to the college boys’ weekly soccer games. Our house dad plays on the team, so we all pile in the van and cheer him on at the game. I love the energy, hanging out with the kids, and getting to see some incredible soccer! It’s also a great opportunity for me to catch up with the college boys I’ve met on previous trips or to spend a little more time with the work group that’s in for the week.

My favorite fútbol experiences, however, are the occasions when it’s half the house against the other. Lately I’ve been on our house mom’s team, while my roommate has been with our house dad. They split the older boys so the skill set is roughly even. My house mom will often pass to me or encourage the kids to do so, even though I’m not very good. It helps me improve and lets me know that I’m part of the team, not just the awkward gringa hanging out on the side. Soccer games are family time, and that precious time is incredible and crazy and wonderful!

All in all, fútbol is something that unites the Mexican people. It’s also something that unites me and the other interns to our Mexican families. While we aren’t very good, that gives the kids an opportunity to teach us something, to laugh with us at our mistakes, and to bond with us doing what they love. When somebody’s feeling lonely, a good game of fútbol is often enough to connect them with the family again. Yesterday, I was sitting with one of my sisters who’d had a bad day. After she’d calmed down, she asked if I wanted to play fútbol. And off we went, everyone happy and laughing and reunited.

This is fútbol. This is my Mexican life. And this is my second family.

¡Dios les bendiga!

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