After long hours of traveling from Nicaragua, the dragons finally arrived in Guatemala. New country. New culture. New challenges. Many differences soon became apparent between the two countries. Some differences required an adjusment period, like the accents and slang used in guatemala, while others were less significant, for example, whether or not the rice and beans are served mixed. But for me, the most significant difference was the relevance of soccer. While soccer is popular in Nicaragua, it is just a sport; in Guatemala, soccer is a part of the culture.
Soccer was a big part of my life during highschool, whether it be a pickup game with strangers or a FIFA game with my closest friends. Soccer was a frequented lunch table conversation, and watching Real Salt Lake was a family bonding event (some people may say watching soccer is boring, and, I admit, it requires a refined eye. But what else are we going to watch? golf?). I navigated the challenges of highschool with a ball at my feet. And now, here in Guatemala, I have found people who care as much about soccer as I do.
On Tuesday, our group formed a new club, FC Dragons. Our first match was a hard-fought game against the locals of Peten. Despite our humbling loss, I was satisfied: I had the ball at my feet once again.
Throughout the week, I returned to the soccer court to play with the people of Peten. Soccer is called The Beautiful Game, and now, I can understand why . With nothing but a ball and two goals, I felt like a part of their community. Despite our vastly different lives, we were brought together by a passion for soccer; it was an aspect of our lives where we understood each other perfectly. United as a team, we all reveled in the excitement of scoring a goal and felt the disappoinment of conceding one. We had a connection that transcended language, culture, or our method of preparing rice and beans: we all loved soccer.