By Chris Romo
Pictured above: Israel Munoz
During Word Cup season, it can become hard to find a Mexico jersey in South Kern. Costco had them last week and ran out in a matter of days. The excitement is in the air when Mexico is playing; local restaurants are filled with people wearing green or red jerseys, and there are people cheering everywhere.
It’s not surprising that in a place like South Kern, where 9 out of 10 people living in Arvin and Lamont are Hispanic or Latino, Mexico would be the team of choice. In fact, 5 out of 10 residents are foreign born, according to the Census. But what makes young soccer fans, who grew up in the States, root for Mexico too?
Soccer is a war without violence
“I personally go for team Mexico because that’s who my parents go for and who they taught me to go for. That’s just part of my culture. Don’t get me wrong I also go for USA but Mexico seems to have more passion about the sport than American soccer so that is why I would like to see Mexico go far in the World Cup.
Soccer is my passion. It’s something I grew up around and I have slowly tried to understand it from a young age. But now at this age I know a lot more and I love the game even more. Every game you watch is more intense and more passionate than the last and to me it is more exciting than even a Super Bowl game or NBA finals. It’s about the passion for the game. It’s the only time when religion, ethnicity or politics doesn’t matter.
Soccer is the most watched event in the world, every game had 3 times more views than the Super Bowl, and the whole world is united together watching. One game can make you or break you and it’s crazy to see a whole country unite together behind one team. It’s not just about playing soccer; it’s playing soccer for your country. It’s war without violence; it’s a battle without blood, only sweat.”
-Israel Munoz, 19
Soccer helps me forget about my daily struggles
“I was born into a soccer-loving family. Since my days in pampers I can remember my dad yelling “GOOOOOAL” at the TV. This World Cup I’m going for Mexico because that is my one and only team. My family is Mexican, so naturally soccer is a huge part of our lives as it usually is in Mexican culture. The Mexican soccer team is who my family goes for and who they taught me to go for.
I can’t imagine growing up without going for team Mexico. This year they made history because no one expected the underdogs to hold their ground. And recently, the tri-colored team “el tri” has done it again, they beat Croatia 3-1 to qualify for the round of 16 teams left in the World Cup. I just love the team so much because it is part of my culture and who I am, and because they are so talented, but I also am a proud American.
Soccer is extremely important to me because whenever I have a frustrating situation in my life or stress overload, I turn to soccer. It is always there for me to distract me from the bad things in life. Soccer has built many strong, long-lasting relationships in my life with beautiful people around the world. There’s nothing quite like the rush of adrenaline running through your veins when your team achieves victory.
It’s nice to see a nation come together for their team. You see people crying in the stands and on the field while their national anthem is playing. They are tears of joy.
I’m beyond excited for the World Cup to finally be here. I look forward to witnessing the underdogs beating the top dogs and I look forward to watching the whole nation unite under the beautiful game of soccer.”
-Marbella Avalos, 18
Soccer gives me hope
“This year for the World Cup I am going for both Mexico and USA. I go for Mexico because my parents were born in Mexico and that is where my culture comes from. But I go for USA because I was born and raised here and this is where I am from and who I am now. Even though my parents might want me to go for Mexico I go for the US too because I am grateful for all the opportunities I have here and I am proud to be an American.
Soccer has been a part of my life since I was born. I’ve been looking forward to it because it only comes around every four years and it’s full of tears and happiness.
Soccer definitely is important to me because it gives me discipline, work ethic, and most importantly, hope. Hope to one day pull myself and my family out of all the struggle that we go through. I am even lucky enough to be playing for UC Merced’s soccer team this coming fall.”
-Rodrigo Rios, 17