Last year, I invited over to my home many of my friends to watch the CONCACAF Gold Cup 2011 championship match between Mexico and the United States. A majority of the people showed up to root for the U.S. as expected. However, with the exception of some of my close friends and roommates, the other guests were surprised when they saw me don a Mexican football jersey. “How could you cheer for the rival?”, I was asked. Many perceived me as being unpatriotic. However, that is not true. My support for them has to do with the many emotions and memories that involve my father.
The earliest I can remember supporting El Tri (a nickname for the Mexican National Football Team) goes back to the 1994 FIFA World Cup. I was around eight years old, and we had just arrived back into the States from visiting my grandmother in Mexico. The elimination round of the World Cup had started; Mexico was to face Bulgaria in the round of sixteen. My dad took me to his work where we watched the game along with some of his co-workers. During the game, I drew on a napkin with something along the lines of “Go Mexico!” and cheered for the team as I ran around with the napkin raised high above my head. I remember my dad laughing about it; cheering along with me. Unfortunately, they eventually lost in a penalty shootout and were eliminated.
I pretty much grew up watching the team play, thanks to my dad. Whenever I saw my father watch a game involving Mexico on television, I would watch it. So I wouldn’t miss a game, he often reminded me about the game in case he wasn’t going to be home.
My father and I have gone to a lot of games together, too. Whenever Mexico played in our hometown of Houston, we would make every effort to attend the game. Recently, we began to travel outside of our hometown primarily for the games. My father and I have traveled together for football matches in other US cities such as Dallas, TX, Chicago, IL, and East Rutherford, NJ for the 2009 and 2011 Gold Cup to as far as Germany for the 2006 FIFA World Cup. When I traveled with my friends to Europe in 2010, I brought along my Mexico jersey to wear while watching the World Cup matches in many different European cities.
It’s also not like I don’t support the U.S.. I do and always have since I started watching football. I usually watch their games only on television, though. It’s just hard to attend their games, as they usually play far northern in the U.S. and I don’t have many friends that are passionate enough to travel that far. The U.S. games just aren’t lively enough compared to Mexico, too. “Soccer” is still less popular than the other sports here in the States.
I brush off all the ignorant statements I get whenever I root for Mexico, even if it’s against the U.S.. I root for them because it reminds me of the many memories I have with my father.