I thought I loved soccer, but for Argentineans soccer or fútbol, as it is called in Spanish, is more than a sport, it’s a way of life! Everyone talks about soccer all the time, there is soccer playing on TVs in almost all the cafeterias and restaurants we have been. Ever since we got to Buenos Aires, everywhere we go we see children playing soccer in parks and in the streets. They play with worn-out soccer balls, cans, balled up socks, rocks or anything they could kick! I learned yesterday that when Argentinean soccer star Diego Maradona was a child, he used to play soccer with stones wrapped with grass and leaves! Now he is considered one of the best soccer player of all time!
Ever since soccer arrived in Argentina in the 18 hundreds from England, it has become the national sport. There are a lot of teams in Argentina, but the two main teams are Boca Junior and River Plate. They are eternal rivals or rivales eternos as Argentineans say! Most people in Argentina are either Boca fans or River fans.
This morning our we went to see the Boca stadium. WOW, it was amazing! It was a huge building painted with the Boca colors: blue and yellow. Argentineans call it “la bombonera”, the chocolate box. I asked the bus driver, Manuel, why the Boca team chose those colors and he told me that in 1906, Boca decided to adopt the colors of the flag of the first boat to sail into the port at La Boca in Buenos Aires. This was a Swedish ship. That’s why the yellow and blue of the Swedish flag were adopted as the team colors. Cool, huh? River’s team colors are red and white. They also have a huge stadium in Buenos Aires. Actually, it is the largest stadium in the country and people call it “el monumental.” Manuel also told me that the games in which Boca and River play each other are considered a must see. It’s like the “Subway Series” in New York and almost impossible to get tickets. Everyone, adults and children, women and men, rich and poor go to this game.
There were many shops that sold all kinds of things related to Argentinean soccer right across from the Boca stadium. I bought a River jersey for my brother and a Boca jersey for myself because I liked the colors and the story behind them.
Now I’m in my hotel room and I cannot wait to wear my jersey and play at the park with Argentinean kids. I think I’ll do that tomorrow afternoon. Bettina, the hotel clerk, told me that getting tickets to a Boca – River game is really, really hard. Oh…how I wish I could magically get some tickets to tomorrow’s match! Well…I guess the next best thing to being there would be watching the game at the cafeteria across from the hotel the Argentinean soccer fanatics!