Pre-Colombia, I hated fútbol, aka soccer. Hated, with all of my heart, hated! My youngest brother played, so I tolerated his games and I had a friend who played that I occasionally watched. Hated. Couldn’t stand it. It’s just so long! When I got here and did the whole “I’m flipping out, I want to go home” thing that I did [yikes], my mom helped me set up a success plan for myself. One of those things was commuting to six weeks of going to fútbol practice. Why? I think it was to help me have roots, practice Spanish. I’m not actually sure. But she was correct.
The first two or three weeks the girls made fun of me [consider it imitation of the a gringa] and told me to stand to the left of the goal and essentially, not move. I’ve improved a lot since then, in fact, they even wanted me to play in the games [for the sake of my ego and my schedule, I declined].
What made me fall in love with fútbol? Grand old question my pals. I’m not sure. I know the first practice I missed, my roommate texted me to tell me that the girls wouldn’t stop asking where I went. That filled me with a whole lot of love and acceptance. When I began practicing, there were about seven girls coming regularly to practice. Now we have about fifteen who come on a somewhat regular basis. It’s fun not to be the new girl anymore and it’s the highlight of my day when I get up to the cancha to see the girls who’ve captured my heart and meet new ones.
It’s been really cool to be apart of the staff, more or less, of this team. We have a devotional rotation, so every few weeks I lead a week of devotionals. It’s a tad bit stressful, but also awesome. A few of them come to church with us Saturday nights, and that’s super rad. We also try to have them over at least monthly to play UNO and mafia and hang out. They’re really awesome girls. Several times we’ve almost housed some of them, but it’s never actually happened. Mostly because God is faithful and partially because we found out the legally, that’s not acceptable. I hate legality. I’ve had some arguments with God on that one, but He’s protected our girls every time.
The soccer coordinator is also the soccer coach. His name is Sebastian, aka Sebas. This guy is amazing! He has the heart of a father and it’s so evident in the way he pours out his heart and tone for all of the soccer kids. From the mixed little kid teams to both female and male teen teams. He’s also been really awesome to me. We argue like siblings, he teases me about boys and we can be found doing shenanigans in the hallways of Viento Fresco; sometimes pushing each other down the halls in rolly chairs, sometimes having sword fights with children toys, it’s really a grand time. We recently had our washer fixed, which means Sebas came over as our “back up” guy. He also brought one of my favorite soccer boys who volunteers at the foundation [Carlos aka Sobrinito]. The fix-it man thought Carlos was Sebas’ son, and Sebas just rolled with it. Added to that, somehow I ended up being his sister [I passed as Colombia, woo hoo!] which is how Carlitos became Sobrinito [little nephew]. Long story short, Sebastian is really awesome and takes really good care of pretty much everyone, particularly the kids in the soccer program.
Next is Manu [Manuel]. He’s newer to the team. He plays soccer professionally, which is cool, and knows Sebas because they’re in the same small group. Somehow he got roped into assistant coaching, and now coaches the little kids and the teen girls. For an eighteen year old, he takes the position really seriously. Once he joined, things got a bit stricter. When slightly injured, the game doesn’t stop. He’s teaching them to persevere and not quit. It’s been really cool. It’s been awesome to watch his heart grow for these girls. While he’s strict with them, he’s good at pouring out love on them, usually in the form of silliness, but it’s cool.
Next up is Talie, who is part of the devotional rotation with me. She’s been on the team far longer than I, and the girls really enjoy her.
Practice is for about two hours every Tuesday and Thursday. Which is a bit odd, since in America, they push sports so hard. Practice is relentless and wild. Sebas is working on pushing the girls harder and he’s doing a kick ass job.
It’s become another piece of a family extension, I love it. Plus, I also love a good workout.
However, I do miss basketball quite a bit. And here’s a list of things I realized I took for granted in my baller days:
• wooden basketball floors // planks in the sand are not fun
• there aren’t any “we don’t play in lightning rules”, catch on the fields, rain, shine, lightning, whatever
• basketball practice was inside, I come home a bit red after every practice & the good old Colombian outdoors is HOT
• English. It took a bit for me to learn fútbol Spanish
But I have grown to love this craziness and the people I do it with. Woo hoo! Welcome to fútbol life.