I promised updates on the Street Club World Cup, and maybe I’ve not been too punctual with it due to work, but here you go.
Youths from Casa Alianza in Nicaragua were given a wonderful opportunity to represent their country at the Street Child World Cup in Rio. I have been to Rio de Janeiro and I can confirm that is as excellent as described in the thousands of guidebooks written about this colourful and exciting city. I remember how excited I was to go, 11 years ago, just to visit, see the Cristo de Redeemer statue, stare at nice Brazilian ladies (when I was single and before I met Pam), listen to samba and bossa nova, visit some beaches, experience the party atmosphere, watch a couple of games at the Maracana. All this I did (I also saw Romario miss two penalties when playing for Fluminese against Sao Paulo, for whom Kaka was playing), but it was also the first time I’d seen extreme poverty and street kids, and I suppose it’s had an everlasting affect on me. It was my first time outside Europe and on the American continent. I was 23 years of age and from a comfortable middle class background.
Can you imagine how the street youths of Nicaragua felt?! First time on a plane. First time out of the country. First time visiting one of the most amazing cities in the world, in a country often referred to as a Mecca to the beautiful game that brought us many amazing players such as Pele, Garrincha, Ronaldinho, Ronaldo (the chubby one) and Jo. First, and maybe only, world cup. Playing a game they love. That they know. That let’s them escape. One can only imagine how they felt.
There were two separate tournaments for both girls and boys, with 20 different countries involved. How many children attended exactly I’m unsure. Nicaragua’s boys group included Tanzania and Burundi, both who eventually made it all the way to the final (Tanzania won). Nicaragua narrowly lost to both, as well as the Philippines, but they can happily live with the memory that they demolished Maradona’s and Messi’s country Argentina in the opening game 4-0; something to grin to, especially from an English point of view . The team returned to a hero’s welcome and the everlasting memory of this amazing adventure.
The Nicaraguan girls team were in a group which contained Mozambique and an odd little country called England, whom they drew 0-0 but then lost to Mozambique, but still went through to the quarter finals and beaten by Brazil, the eventual winners, and by all accounts made a great account of themselves. They too returned to cameras and moments of fame. Really pleased for them. Well done!
There is something of a dangerous bug passing around Honduras. Unfortunately I’ve got this little bug and it gives me cronic anxiety and God awful migraines. It’s a bizarre bug and I used to get it when I was young. It’s called Panini stickers, and the current form of this bug is the World Cup Brazil 2014. I’ve had Panini Thunder Cat illnesses and various football world cup bugs. But this one is a bad one, especially as the world cup is nigh. While we are used to England being dull and unconvincing at every one of these big expensive worldwide football jamborees, this is only Honduras’ third, and this their first consecutive world cup, so in a way it’s a much bigger event to Hondurans, even if they don’t have a high opinion of their team. They rarely get to collect stickers that contain faces of their own footballing heroes. It seems at the last tournement, the country was even more smitten (to say the least) with Panini stickers. Parents and grandparents included. People were buying how boxes in numbers. Swapsy meeting groups. Hearts being broken, hearts being made, sexual favours being offered to try and get that special silver emblem for North Korea page, or some place like it. Brilliant. Love it. I wasn’t expecting this. However, to be straight to the point and I apologise if I seem a bit insensitively blunt about this, but in Honduras, so many people are skint. Me included. So how so many people are collecting this stickers is a beyond me, especially as the packs cost a small fortune. It seems that Panini feed on people’s irrational addictions, mine included. They have taken advantage of this bug and are charging people double for a box, so friends tell me. A pack costs 17 lemps, over 50p, which is more than a ride in a taxi collectivo or a bus to Valle de Angeles. It becomes an annoying f–king bugger when I get a duplicate. I wrote a little about my own illness in a facebook update. Have a read:
“I need to open a small square concealed packet. I need a huge rush of excitement before I open it. I need the tiny bubble gum whiff you get when you rip open a packet. I need to peel something. I need nice little numbers. I need a chronological order. I need to place something between lines and smooth it down so it has no folds or creases. I need to be happy with the rare shiny emblems for each country. I need to be annoyed when I receive a duplicate. I need to think of how I can use the duplicate and fool an idiot kid into swapping it for a rare sticker. I need to read fact files and stats on each team’s page. I need to know if there’s any 24 hour retailers that sell the damn stickers near my humble abode. I need faces of the Ivory Coast team swirling around in my dreams. I need, I need, I need more stickers, or to stick something. I need all this. Now. This moment. Or I refuse to eat. Or act. Normally.
Hello Panini sticker addiction. Where have you been hiding all this time?”
Pamela’s family are finding something hilarious. They think it’s absolutely brilliant that I haven’t yet collected not one sticker for the England team. It’s the only team I’m missing any stickers. Yet I have collected three of the Chilean chump below.
I two Honduran players. Panini seem to have chosen unflattering photos of the Honduran players. I’ve seen the Carlos Costly sticker, in which he is gurning. And this is Wigan Athletic’s finest, Roger Espinoza, obviously with his mind elsewhere during his team’s national anthem. Maybe he was thinking of pupusas. Or a bad memory.
Just to finish off, Honduras play France in their opening game. Obviously, I am hoping Honduras to win this more than ever, and I don’t think I would be able to love it more if the French team imploded like they did in the last tournement and Honduras smash them 3-0 or something like it. I’ve gone on record with Pamela’s family that if Honduras do beat France, I will walk down the street starkers, but they must do the same if England beat Costa Rica. They didn’t agree to it. Wise, I think.