My “Football”


Whenever I hear someone say, “football,” I always think that they’re talking about the worldwide version of football, which we Americans call “soccer.” This particular type of football is a true passion of mine: I don’t just watch it; I eat and sleep it too. I mark the day when my Guadalajara Chivas play against Club América on my calendar in red. I always wake up early to watch the FIFA World Cup or the UEFA European Championship so I can catch every game, and then I create a scorekeeper on Microsoft Word so I can keep track of the group stage and knockout rounds. Football is a dear passion of mine, a passion that runs deep in my blood and even deeper in my heart.

I watch games that range around the world, from the Liga MX in Mexico to the Copa Libertadores in South America to just about all of Europe’s biggest competitions to the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) which is occurring right now to even the A-League in Australia. I also look closely to all the transfer deals and rumors during the transfer window (which occurs only in June, July, and January) by closely observing the possible pricetag and destinations for the player in question, by questioning if the rumor is reasonable or not, and by checking if the transfer is even a good idea. You could say it’s a bit of an unhealthy obsession, but even if it is, I still can’t help it because I love it that much.

The passion for the sport runs deep in my family. My dad and grandma used to go see the Chivas, Cruz Azul, Universidad de Guadalajara (my dad’s university), and Club Atlas live when they were living in Mexico. My mom has been a fan of AD Alajuelense, one of the most popular teams in Costa Rica, because it’s been a tradition in her family. But when it comes to the World Cup, boy, does it get intense in the Perales house! In the 2014 World Cup, when Costa Rica went on their historic run to the quarterfinals, my mom and I were crying and screaming and praying and jumping for our national team. My grandma and my dad also get emotional during the games, especially when it’s Mexico who’s playing.

My adoration for football can be traced back to even my birth. I remember watching Manchester United dominate the Premier League and Champions League during the Sir Alex Ferguson era, outplaying their opposition with ease. I remember watching Edwin Van Der Sar be a complete beast between the sticks; Nemanja Vidiw and Rio Ferdinand acting as two defensive brick walls in the back; Rafael and Patrice Evra running down the wings from the back, supplying more creativity for the offense; Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Michael Carrick, and Darren Fletcher creating something out of nothing in the midfield; and the attacking force of Luis Nani, Carlos Tevez, and Cristiano Ronaldo as they mastered the defense with their pace and trickery banged home un golazo.

I remember when I first truly took interest in the sport, which was during the 2006 World Cup where I saw Brazil take on Croatia. The game only ended 1-0 to Brazil, but that one goal was what kicked off my fiery affection towards football. I remember watching Sunderland take on Liverpool, and that iconic moment when Darren Bent’s shot deflected off a random red balloon that was on the pitch into the back of the net, leaving the Liverpool keeper completely befuddled. I remember seeing Ronaldinho and Kaká gracefully, flawlessly skilling defenders when they were playing for AC Milan.

However, I also recall some unhappy moments, such as when Manchester United couldn’t beat Barcelona at Wembley in the Champions League final; or when Luis Suarez handled the ball to prevent a last-minute Ghana goal, and watching him celebrate at the tunnel when Uruguay won the penalty shoot-out 4-2; or when Frank Lampard’s shot hit the crossbar and when clearly over the line only for the referee to simply wave the goal off.

For these moments, whether good or bad, do I have a true fondness for football. For me, it is my number one sport. American football, the more popular “football” here, just hasn’t stuck with me: I tried to get into it when I was in fifth and sixth grade, but in the end I just didn’t really like it, especially with the concussions and health issues that dwell around the game. For these reasons, I always have and might always define the term “soccer” with “football.”