Soccer / panama
Letter from a football emigrant
This is a letter written by one of my best friends as a form of relief after having emigrated from Venezuela and our beloved football.Emigrating does not only mean leaving your country of origin, it is also taking off almost compulsorily from your habits, your routine, from your loved ones; and, in turn, resign yourself and accept the challenges that arise in the new place where you will be. At present, the political, economic and social crisis in Venezuela has caused millions of Venezuelans to be in the painful need to leave their territory, the one they have defended so much and which today is increasingly lost, even though everyone knows that "Hope is the last thing you lose". One of those people who had the opportunity to go in search of new horizons has been me. A young student of journalism, with dreams, goals and a deep and unshakeable love for football. A few days ago -three, to be more precise-, I only served three months away from my land, which means that I am legally an illegal and, I must say, it has not been easy to bear, among other things, the siege of the policies migratory. The destination that I chose, mainly because of its economic stability, is the Republic of Panama. Land of working people who, throughout their democratic history, have known how to fight for what belongs to them, such as the majestic Panama Canal, recovered almost 17 years ago from the North American imposition and that, as I have often heard, He is in charge of "connecting to the world". One of the most difficult things I have had to "suffer", besides the strong feeling of missing the rest of my family and friends -who are still suffering the ravages of the dictatorship-, is having to take off suddenly from football , which for more than a decade has become, more than just a sport, a way of life for me. I have gone from seeing almost every day at least one football game, to having to wait a whole week to beg a match that satisfies this thirst for football so unbearable. In these three short months of stay in Panama, I have too many fingers to count the number of matches I've seen. Some of them I have enjoyed thanks to technology: I have come to make video calls with my best friend -in Venezuela- to see certain games. Despite the notorious growth of football in the country, Panamanian public television only transmits a limited number of competitions, with the Panamanian Football League (LPF) and Major League Soccer (MLS) the most frequently broadcast -at least one game of each one on weekends-; and sporadically the matches of the CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers - only the matches of the Panamanian national team - and the UEFA Champions League - only one match on Wednesday -. The Panamanian is very attached to his. They are located in that thin line that separates nationalism from patriotism. Perhaps that is why it costs them a little to accept, with exceptions, what comes from outside. They recognize that their team is not the best in the CONCACAF zone, but they follow it faithfully, especially after having fulfilled the dream of qualifying for a World Cup, which seems very close. For its part, the local league has a collective support: fans and media. With only 10 teams in the top category, the Panamanian league continues to develop and grow gradually, at the pace of its selection. I proclaim myself as "football emigrant", not because I have lost even a drop of love to this sport, but because I have reluctantly accepted this lifestyle, even for a short period of time. I have managed to cope with the lack of football with resignation, waiting some day soon to see football matches as if there were no tomorrow, and to return to what I believe today is my place in the world: the José Encarnación "Pachencho" Romero Stadium, in Maracaibo, my city. Only those who really love this sport will know why it is so difficult to get away from it. Of this madness called football. Once during a football game I saw a banner in the audience with a phrase that, until today, became my immediate response when they questioned me about my love for football: "How to understand my madness if you do not understand my passion?". Football is that, a passion that leads you to madness. I am a football madman, obsessed with learning everything about him. I never knew how to play it, some friend has even thanked God for not having dedicated myself to him - because playing is really bad, I accept it - and despite having understood almost perfectly his methods, the characters he has created, his values, its principles and its teachings, my feet are rebellious and do not pay attention to the brain to play decently. Eaither way. As incredible as it sounds, football has taught me that a man can tell another who loves him without being frowned upon by the most conservative society, because this is not a carnal love, but gratitude for the joys provided with a goal, for the sadness of the defeat and for the hope that grows between the match and the match. For the desire to learn all its aspects, I have come to know the history, geography and cultures of countries that I never thought I could learn. I have known unique stories of people related to football, of which I always get a teaching. And most importantly, thanks to football I have met many of those who today are, more than friends, a band of brothers for me. With much pain I emigrated from my country. I emigrated from a Venezuela that has always belonged to Venezuelans and that soon, very soon, will be free again, without dictatorship, without oppression, without chains. I emigrated from football, that which has often given meaning to everything, which serves as an escape route for problems and as the basis of a better society. I know that soon I will return to the Venezuela that saw me being born and the football that made me grow, because I belong to both of them and I owe them so much.