Playing It Old School

By: Jed Herrmann

With the Superchivos season well underway, some readers have likely had the cultural experience of seeing a Xelaju game in person- though picking up on last month’s column about the team’s ever changing schedule, maybe not*. Those that have managed to attend a game have traveled in the time machine that is a visit to Estadio Mario Camposeco.

In an era where sports stadiums in the United States and Europe have in-seat televisions, gourmet food, and elaborate half-time shows, Guatemalan futbol is refreshingly spartan (at least until the bleachers make your butt go numb). In fact, many local stadium amenities were last seen in our grandparent’s era.

There isn’t a big screen showing replays (let alone personalized televisions) and no programs either (though even your grandparents probably had these, given that the printing press was invented in 1440). Rather than fancy restaurants, the most sophisticated culinary experience is the woman with the grill in the corner of the Tribuna (for those sitting in other sections, occasionally she’ll pass plates through a hole in the fence- the local version of in-seat service).

Halftime features no famous musical groups and not even a marching band (though with Independence Day now passed, you’d think it wouldn’t be hard to find a high school band with some openings in their performance schedule). In fact, on a recent rainy evening the halftime “show” consisted of 4 miserable looking people waving corporate sponsor flags.

The coaching staff also sometimes seems to think the team is playing in an era before the offsides rule was invented (or perhaps they just didn’t bother to tell some specific players about it). But that problem may now be solved as the coach recently resigned (a few may recall last month’s discussion of the coach promising to leave if the team didn’t make the playoffs- apparently he decided to hasten the process by leaving for Peru).

Despite the turn-back-the-clock environs and the coaching turmoil, the team is now playing fairly well on the field. Last month they finally notched their first points on the road and at press time they were in playoff contention.

This month’s fun fact: Estadio Mario Campseco was built in 1950 (almost back in your grandparents time).

*For those readers that were hoping to see the game versus Retalhuleu that I mentioned last month, don’t worry you still can, it is now scheduled for October 2.

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