Imagine yourself sprinting down the cobbled streets of a small Chilean city. It´s a fairly warm winter night, as far as Chilean winter nights go. Just behind you is a newfound friend from the University Studies Abroad Consortium Santiago, Chile program. She´s a bit shorter than yourself, and in her opinion she´s not much of an athlete, but she´s doing quite well keeping up. Your destination is an arena, filled with thousands of soccer, or what the rest of the world calls football, fans. The game has already begun, but your bus arrived late. Thus, the sprinting. You hear the cheers, screams, and taunts first. Then as you round the corner, hard breaths fogging the air, you see it. The football stadium. The place where legends are born.
I had seen a few football games on the television before. It wasn´t until just recently that I´d been inducted to the world of football fandom, and this would be my first time at an actual game ever. And what a game it was. This wasn´t just any game. The Copamerica was taking place in Chile this year, and luckily my friend had an extra ticket available. She´d asked me if I wished to go and I jumped at the opportunity. Tonight, Mexico was playing Ecuador, and Mexico was a sure win as they obviously had the better team. But on gameday, anything can happen. I will do my best to somehow fully explain with words the electrification that was rampant in the air. I will do my best to explain the rush of emotion that governed my body and actions for what would be the last 45 minutes of the game. I will do my best to explain the sensation of witnessing titans in battle, whose only purpose in existence for those 45 minutes was the next goal. I will do my best. Please forgive me if this is not good enough.
Inside the arena a sea of people raged relentlessly in the stands. The language that filled the arena, which was for the most part Spanish, somehow seemed different for different sections. The reason for this would be the different dialects being used. People from all over the world came to Rancagua for the express purpose of viewing this game. The colors they wore indicated which team they cheered for. Some wore Mexico´s red, green, and white. Some wore Ecuador´s yellow, blue, and red. Others, true Chileans, wore their countries red, white, and blue, regardless of their team´s absence in this game. All of them screamed.
We found seats in the first row. The players were close enough to smell their sweat. This wasn´t an eagle eye view of the stadium or a close up of an individual play or player. The entirety of the game was at my feet. The players were life sized. The ball and goal brought to reality. And then something happened. My heartbeat became the thundering footfall of a herd of horses at full bolt. The thin veil of dull that coagulated in the air crystaliezed into perfect clarity. My blood was the rushing tide of a waterfall in my veins. I felt a sudden urge to run again. This time into the game, and take my place among the gods of the arena. I tempered the urge, but not silently. Cheers flowed from my lips in a language that until recently I´d never used daily. Cheers for Ecuador. Cheers for the underdog. Who at that very moment was ahead by one goal. I was not alone. Beside me, my friend cheered her lungs out as well. Both of us joining the symphony of cries that flooded the stadium. This continued for 45 mins. For 45 minutes we laughed, we cried, we cheered. And at the end of those 45 minutes, we won.