Soccer, Guatemala-Style

One of our highlights of this week in San Juan del Obispo, besides the usual routine of Spanish school, cultural activities and time with our host families, was all of us getting to watch the first Guatemala league soccer game of the season in the Antigua stadium. Playing was the team from Coban, against Antigua’s very own Pancia Verdes (Green Bellies), named for the city’s love of avocados.

The game kicked off after the avocado mascot danced off the field, and it wasn’t too long before the whole stadium filled with booing as Coban scored the first goal. Most of the crowd was dressed in the signature green of Antigua, some even buying scarves, hats, and face stamps from the many enthusiastic vendors.

From our end of the stadium, it was hard to know what to watch: the professional soccer players, or the group of four little boys playing two on two at the bottom of the stands. Every once in a while their ball would go flying over the fence onto the field, and one of the players from Coban would run over to throw it back to them.

But it was midplay that the excitement peaked: Antigua was bearing down on Coban’s net, looking like they might level the game, when a new player was added to the field—a happy dog, racing the teams for the ball. Gameplay came to a halt and officials swarmed the field, trying to chase the dog off. It ran around and around, across the field and behind ad boards, evading them at every turn, until it finally leapt triumphantly through the fence to cheering from all sides of the stands.

Gameplay resumed. Antigua soon scored, and finished the game with a one all tie with Coban. Antigua was the Guatemala-wide champion last year. We won’t be here to witness the winning games, but we wish all the best luck to the Panca Verde team throughout the rest of this season.

This game was also our last time seeing some visitors we had with us, pastor J Janzen and his wife Andrea here for the week from Abbotsford, BC. Throughout the week they had been taking students out for coffee, breakfast, lunch, and supper to hang out and talk about pretty much anything with us. Plans for next year, deep theological questions, tourist spots in Antigua, whatever was on our minds. We were very appreciative of the time and care they took meeting up with every single one of us seventeen students. They flew out not long after the game, and the rest of us were left to pack our bags for what’s coming up next in our itinerary: two weeks of adventure and travelling through the most beautiful scenery and experiences that Guatemala has to offer, from the clear pools of Semuc Champey to the ancient Mayan ruins at Tikal.

Until next time, this is Olivia from Guattatown signing off.

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