Sunday, October 29, 2006

Soccer Victory and Gang Violence

Team members celebrate after winning the finals match.

We arrived back from a short trip to California just in time to attend the "Copa del Obispo," the ¨Bishop´s Cup,¨ a male and female youth soccer tournament sponsored annually by the Anglican Episcopal Church of El Salvador, this year on October 7 at El Maizal, the Diocesan agricultural development in Sonsonate. And, somewhat jet-lagged, we arrived at the Copa just in time to see the male team from San Andrés win the championship! The last thing I knew before we left, San Andrés was not going to present a team, as most of the youth had to work. But, they got it together, and, despite transportation problems (their bus ran out of gas halfway there), made it to the tournament. Even though they had few replacements and hadn't practiced, they played energetically and took the Cup!
who often have little opportunity for recreation. Of course people follow the games-- when Barcelona and Real Madrid play there's hardly anyone out (and forget going to the grocery store during the World Cup!)-- but just playing is almost as important, for everyone from kids kicking Soccer in the United States is not a good reference point for understanding ¨fútbol¨ in Latin America. Here, it is a passion. It is an incredible outlet of energy, especially among the youth, a hard plastic ball around in the streets to organized leagues in every small country municipality.
The San Andrés youth have been energized by their victory (this is the 3rd cup they´ve won in the eight year history of the tournament!) and plan to continue playing, planning soccer ¨encounters¨where they will go out and worship and play with the youth from other congregations around the country. They have dedicated their victory to Jorge Alberto Enriquez, who helped them to victory as goalie, and as his father commented, was a great soccer "aficcionado". Jorge was an active member of the church when he was younger. He turned 21 the day before the tournament, and just two weeks later, on October 22, was brutally killed by gang members from the neighboring territory, who mistook him for a member of the rival gang. ¨I hardly ever leave my house these days,¨ said our youth group president and team captain Luis Daniel Escobar at a youth meeting a couple of weeks later. ¨And when I leave to go to work, I wonder if I´ll come back.¨ Luis Daniel´s cousin was killed by the gangs a year ago in another case of mistaken identity. Everyone is nervous these days, but it´s the youth, especially the guys, that face the most danger every single day. The church needs to be there for them, to support them and encourage them in every way that we can. -Amy

Team Captain Luis Daniel receives the Champions trophy from Bishop Barahona

Team photo with La Reverenda

1 comment:

Archana said...

When I first moved to Guatemala City, I felt so disappointed that the gang violence was so pervasive. As an America, I felt sad that I couldn't have the type of international experience I had envisioned (meeting people on the street, taking the bus, etc.). I've come to realize that not only is international travel and tourism disrupted by the kind of gang violence you describe, but also the lives of everyone in the country. Culturally speaking, most families are shuttered into their homes when night falls and fear the worst - like what happened to the young man you describe... it's a real tragedy.