Posted by: JennyRain | July 9, 2009

For the Love of the Game: US vs. Honduras – Gold Cup 2009

I attended my first international professional soccer game last night.

Or as the rest of the world calls it “football.” My Gumpie was the referee liaison for the CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament and I was invited to tag along.

John has been involved in soccer from a wee age – first as a player, now as a referee for various leagues from highschool through professional. If you know John, you know that he is passionate about his soccer! It was fun for me to get a taste of his world.

The Haiti/Grenada game was fun to watch, but it seemed as if most people were anxiously awaiting the Honduras/US game. As the crowd filtered in, they came in one of two flavors – blueberry & vanilla striped or red cotton tees (with the occasional bare-chested, lipstick-red-chest painted onlooker). I noticed the blueberry/vanilla stripers were considerably louder than the cotton-red ones – at least at first.

Fans filtered in carrying streamers, wearing flags, and blowing horns, with the occasional bass drum strapped to their chest. As they awaited their team to arrive on the field, shouts of Hon-Du-Ras mixed with U-S-A in a frenzied cacophony that made everyone sound as if they were rooting for the same team!
What I noticed about the game officials, administrators, and referees is that they were all in coat and tie. I observed that though the fans were rowdy and excited for the games to start – no one cursed at the players or muttered expletives at the coach or the referees. I came to discover that the game moved so fast that if you spent too much time analyzing the last thing that happened in the game (or chose to yell about it), chances are, you would miss the next play.


The players for the US and Honduras were notably more agressive than the Haiti/Grenada crew.

Both the US and Honduras players burst onto the field out for a win, and they strategically (and regularly) took down whomever stood in their way to achieving their goal. It was exciting to watch their skill and “strategery” – but even more intriguing to me was how both teams seemed to move as a unit – working together to move towards the goal line. Individual aptitude was important, but what was paramount was how that individual aptitude served the team.

The fans during the US/Honduras game were a blast to watch. Most did not sit for the entire game and whether or not their team was doing well or poorly – they were on their feet cheering. At one point during the match, John and I could feel the entire section shaking because the fans were so rowdy.  
Unlike American games where fans will take their seats during frequent time outs and instant replays – International soccer tends to move much faster. It seems as if you sit down, or whine and complain you may miss something, so fans stayed standing. And jumping. And yelling. And waving flags. And cheering. The entire game!

The After-Party


Once the game was over, John and I walked down to the field and had the opportunity to see the players walk off. We were so close to some of them, I could have reached out and shook their hand. The US team walked off with smiles on their faces, but what struck me was that the Honduras team did also! And even though the game had finished, the Honduras fans were still chanting and shouting their praises of the team! (Of course, there were the occasional beers and sodas jettisoned at those of us on the field, but overall, everyone had a cheerful attitude).


For the love of the game.

The whole experience left me wondering – how often in life do I show up to play just for the love of the game? How often am I “in the moment” when I am playing versus trying to analyze what I have just done or where I am going next?

During the games I was left wondering about the abject poverty that some of these players undoubtedly came from, and some may return to. I concerned myself with how long of a soccer-life-expectancy most of them had (John told me once they hit late twenties to early thirties their soccer-life-span is done) and if it was short, what did they do next? (How miserable to be thirty-four and have your main life goal behind you!) I was attempting to assess the psychological and mental health of the players both now and in the future – and they were just there to play the game because they love to play it!



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