At the beginning of the sports section I mention that there are only two sports from the list that I am good at, well, not really. Indeed , I have played soccer for many years, but for european standards I started to play the game relatively late at the age of ten. By then, all my friends had several years of experience on me. It took me close to four years to reach their skill level. Because, luckily I was a very fast runner my peers did not mind too much my lack of ball control and instead took advantage of my speed for break aways. My only problem with break aways was that although I could outrun the fastest of all defenses, I never knew what to do when I got to the goal. Yes, I took the shot but most of the times into the goalie’s hands or far into orbit.
When I moved to Canada in 1997, I joined a few outdoor and indoor teams and I have been involved in the sport on and off since then.
The highlight of my amateur soccer career was on 2001 when I was selected to represent BC on the first ever futsal championship organized in Canada. I scored one goal but we finished second out of four teams. It was held in Montreal and even televised on God knows what french channel.
The only reason I made the team was because I was good friends with Jose Fraguas, a really nice referee from Madrid and a great promoter of the game in BC.
Jose and I used to go out for beers every Friday near the Harry Jerome velodrome where I played for a peruvian team on a futsal league entirely managed and organized by Jose.
I have many fond memories of my times playing soccer both in Canada and Spain. Growing up in Spain we used to play with cheap flat balls on the streets of my neighborhood in Bilbao. Surprisingly, for a soccer loving country such Spain and unlike Canada or the US, there was a great lack of fields where we could ply. We always had to climb all kind of obstacles to play on closed schools and playgrounds and many many times we had to cut our games short because security guards would kick us out. But those were little inconveniences and never stooped us from continuously going back for more games.
We would play in the streets wearing our everyday clothes and shoes even if it was raining. I cannot remember how many times we hit innocent civilians of all ages and shapes. Sometimes on purpose, bad boys we were!. Countless of broken windows, alarms going off, angry moms and lost soccer balls.
Unlike many youngsters today, that was the extent of our evil doing in those days and it sure kept on going late into our teens when most of all the other kids had already been years chasing girls, getting into drugs, smoking and drinking, etc. Eventually nature won the game and each and everyone of us succumbed to the inexorable pull of our hormones flowing like crazy through our veins.
However, despite the years gone by, the girls, girlfriends, jobs, alcohol and drugs, soccer still takes a honorable time from our everyday lives and it seems it will do for many more years to come.
Seven years after I left Spain, every time I go back for a visit I get together with my old friends for a couple of soccer games. Now it has become like a good old tradition to do so. We still get angry at each other and cheat like we always did before. The only thing that has really changed is the amount of hair and noxious substances in our bodies. During the game breaks we still talk about girls, soccer, sex and rock and roll. I guess that some things never change.