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Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Fútbol y Club Deportivo Centro

Mexico is a country that lives and breaths football. As a football fan, its and incredible place to be. I was fortunate enough to be here through the World Cup, and each time the national team played, work at the University came to a stand still and all the students and staff went to watch the matches on the big screen in the auditorium. There is a real sense of national pride and the whole country really gets behind their teams of any sporting discipline. The news constantly congratulates the achievements of its sportsmen and women at home and abroad. Since his arrival at Manchester United, Javier Hernandez or `Chicharito'(little pea) has converted himself into the golden boy and source of national pride. As a Manchester United fan its meant that I've not missed out on a thing as they constantly pass the highlights and goals from all the Manchester United fixtures.

As soon as i arrived, playing football gave me an opportunity to meet a lot of people, and has been a brilliant way to integrate with the local community here. I had been in Ixtepec for around 3 weeks, and I made my way down to the busy local market on a Saturday morning looking for something to eat. In the centre of the market, I found a small taco stand selling pork tacos which I had never tried before. I sat on the bench and as I was eating, I got talking to the guy working at the stand. After 3 weeks in Ixtepec, my Spanish was limited, but as has been my experience with all of the people here in Ixtepec, the guy was very patient with me and my basic conversational ability. At the time, I always carried a notepad around to write down new words that I heard or needed throughout the day, which I then learnt at night time. The conversation consisted of a mixture of him talking and writing a lot of sentences in my notebook and although I was at a very early stage with my Spanish, we managed to communicate many of our ideas. During the conversation, some football highlights came on the TV that they had in the stand, and when he saw my face light up, we talked a little about our mutual love for football. He said that he had a friend that also worked in the market that was a senior member of one of the local football teams and that if I wanted, I was welcome to go and try out for the team. He took me across to meet a man that worked in another stall and we agreed that the next day I would go down and watch the team play. After watching the team play they invited me for a trial and then invited me on to the team.

The first match that I played kicked off at 12 o'clock. Just waiting in the sun on the pitch resulted in me dripping with sweat due to the 35 degree heat and the fact that there was not one cloud anywhere in the sky. I started worrying about my well-being well before the kick-off! I was selected to started the match and played for all of about 15 minutes before I literally thought my head was going to explode in the heat. I struggled on for another 5 minutes before asking to be substituted. Red faced and sweating profusely, my team mates, who were obviously all well accustomed to the heat were all laughing saying 'mucho calor, no?!'(its hot, no?!) That was the baptism of fire and the moment that I became a member of CDC(Club Deportivo Centro.)

Playing with CDC has been one of the highlights of being here in Mexico and one of the things that I look forward to doing most every week. I play right back or left back normally, and play in the number 5 shirt. Every Sunday without fail for two complete seasons, we have played in the local municipal league. Playing with the football team is so much more that just the football that we play. Family and friends of the team come down to watch the matches, cheer on the team; drink beer in the sun and catch up. The close knit community and family spirit which exists around the team is something really impressive. They have always made me feel extremely welcome and all the Sundays that I have spent on the different pitches around Ixtepec will be something that I will always remember.

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