Bustling stadium crowds, loud whistles and horns reverberated from my family’s TV throughout our home in the early summer mornings during my childhood – but only every four years that is. With one eye open and half asleep, my sisters and I would stumble out of our beds (happily I must say), and join Mami in the living room to watch the day’s soccer matches for the World Cup.
To give some context, my mother was raised with her brothers and three boy cousins under one roof; which almost unavoidably made her a tomboy. She shot Bibi guns, jumped from rooftops and of course played futbol out on the streets of Guadalajara with her siblings and all the neighborhood boys.
Like many other countries, soccer is the impassioned sport of choice in Mexico. But, the futbol fervor was a notch above in Mami’s family; mainly because her grandfather and her uncles were professional soccer referees at one point or another in their lives - Futbol was seemingly the center of their universe, and my mother wasn’t the exception. She, just like the rest of her family is a loyal Guadalajara Chivas fan and she too dreamt of the day when she would get to kick the ball around with her own sons.
But as fate would have it, Mami would be blessed with three girls. My sisters and I not only didn’t care to, but we didn’t know how to kick a soccer ball. I got to give it to my mom, she tried a lot to teach us or convince us that playing soccer was fun. Unfortunately for her, one sister preferred her books and music, my other sister preferred to play with her dolls and I opted for ballet slippers over cleats.
Yet, what we absolutely looked forward to and loved were those World Cup summer days with Mami. We could pick to root for whatever country we wanted, but we knew better and inevitably ended up fans of el Tri (Mexico’s nickname for their world cup team) since we were kiddos.
Often I wonder what made these summers so exciting. Maybe it was the contagious nail biting excitement of every match, or perhaps, it was that we got to see Mami, stop being “mom.” Chores and kid stuff were pushed aside for some rambunctious screaming at the TV and lively jumping and cheering with her girls in the living room.
Looking back on it now, I realize that she would become a kid again full of anticipation and elation for the day’s matches; you could see in her eyes a youthful admiration for the sport that was a big part of her. And although she didn’t get to kick the ball around with us, she did get to teach us futbol through the greatest of events in Mami’s life – the World Cup.