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Finding it Hard to Avoid Soccer in Futbol-Loving Honduras

I just returned from a four-day trip to Honduras. My wife and I wanted to get away and immerse ourselves in a completely different culture as well as to see Mayan ruins and, most importantly of all, to relax.

The timing of my trip was to recharge my batteries before the busy preseason and Premier League season began. I also needed a break — a break away from soccer, which I consume on a daily basis, 365 days a year. So while I purposefully tried to distance myself from soccer for a few days, it was very difficult. First, there was free Wifi at the airport, hotels and restaurants, so I often found myself sharing the latest transfer stories on Twitter and Facebook. Second, most bars and restaurants I went to were showing the Copa America games as well as the under-17 World Cup. And third, and most importantly of all, Honduras is a country that loves soccer, so it wasn’t difficult to see people playing the game throughout the country.

The first soccer pitch I saw was on day two of my trip when the bus I was sitting in drove through a small village called Santa Barbara where, on a tiny bumpy pitch, were two wooden goals. Thin long branches joined together to create makeshift posts. But I had a feeling that the wooden goalposts had been there for a long time. And will continue to do so for many more years to come.

After seeing that first set of wooden goalposts, I would go on to see many more. Even the most remote villages, deep in the heart of the Honduras jungle — accessible by only a small dirt road, would have kids playing soccer on bumpy clay fields.

On Sunday afternoon, I rode a horse up to a remote village named La Pintada where we were greeted by Mayan children who offered us dolls made out of corn husks. While my wife talked to the young children, I walked around to the back of a building to see a group of 6-7 boys playing soccer (see photo above). The field was covered with stones. There was very little grass. The ball was flat. But the children were having fun. It was a beautiful site to see. The simple brilliance of children enjoying the game, which is the heart of the game. We too were once children, playing the beautiful game.

The pitch seemed a million miles away from the Premier League. But there were still some reminders. While in San Pedro Sula, an economic hub in Honduras, I saw a few strangers wearing Manchester United shirts. But throughout my trip, the majority of shirts I saw were either Barcelona, Real Madrid, Inter Milan or AC Milan. Barcelona, without a doubt, was most prevalent — almost as prevalent as the Honduras national jerseys I saw now and again. All together, seeing people in Honduras wearing their football shirts was a reminder of the impact of globalization and how, thanks to television and the easy accessibility of games on television, you can be a supporter of a club thousands of miles away from where your team plays its football.

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13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. Steve Bruce

    July 13, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    Literally picked Rodallega of one of these dust pitches when I signed him.

    The lad reveled when we showed him running water, grass pitches, and fried English cuisine.

  2. IanCransonsKnees

    July 13, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    Any Potters fans out there practicing their Rory Delap throw ins?

    How are Orlando City going?

    • JW

      July 13, 2011 at 5:44 pm

      Aren’t most Potters fans camping out for the midnight movie showing tonight?

  3. Ted

    July 13, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    Actually the best place to get away from soccer is to go to America Samoa. All they do for sport on that island is American football which baffles me because its so unlike their neighbors who practice rugby.

  4. BCB

    July 13, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    Scotland would be a good place to get away from football

    • Ted

      July 13, 2011 at 3:28 pm

      Yes especially during this “old Firm” thingy, no football what so ever there.

  5. karl anton

    July 13, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    Im half honduran, and half dominican. next time go to the dominican republic, no football at all… honduras, remenber, was in the world cup, and that means Football Everywhere… hehehe

    Dont You remenber David Suazo? one of the best fwds that Internazionale had …

  6. tonyspeed

    July 13, 2011 at 10:35 am

    Mate,

    If you wanted to get away from football you should have gone somewhere like Puerto-Rico where baseball eclipses it in popularity. There are not many other places on the surface of this planet you can escape the beautiful game. Have you tried going to Wyoming or Montana?

    • tonyspeed

      July 13, 2011 at 10:39 am

      PS. As a note, we in the colonised world have been following foreign football probably from before you were born. We were after all colonies for a reason. Before TV there was radio. Before radio there was newspaper. The only difference is that beginning in the 80s or so people could pull satellite feeds and actually watch matches if the local station didn’t broadcast them.

      • soonerscotty

        July 13, 2011 at 11:04 am

        The USA is also a part of the “colonised world.”

        • tonyspeed

          July 13, 2011 at 4:42 pm

          Literally, yes. Mentally, no.

        • Tuttle

          July 13, 2011 at 5:02 pm

          To be pedantic, everywhere is part of the colonized world. The USA was a British colony. Britain was a Roman colony (not to mention the Angles, Saxons, Danes and Normans). Rome was an Alba Longian colony. Alba Longa was a Trojan colony. Troy was an Ionian colony. And the Ionians rolled off the steppes and into history 4,000 years ago. Somebody had probably colonized their homeland and kicked them out.

          • tonyspeed

            July 14, 2011 at 1:54 pm

            I think the main difference to notice is that the British colonists of America wiped out the natives then rebelled against their motherland. Most other colonies in the world were just colonies in name only where the colonizers made up the minority of the actual population, thereby creating a hierarchy where the majority was at the bottom of the food chain, creating a kind of twisted father – illegitimate step son relationship where the majority looked up to the minority. The American colonists however killed off the natives leaving themselves as the majority. Sure, this happened in Canada and Australia as well, but those countries never had a violent rebellion against their mother. Therefore the outlook of Americans is completely different. I doubt many americans look fondly to British culture as their own.

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