As a country Mexico doesn’t do anything by halves, whether it’s music, food, dance or traditions. But soccer, well, Mexicans are fanatical about it. You can hear it on every street corner; drifting out of bars, clubs or open windows on the chorus of a Mariachi band.
Ever since students of Jesuit and Marist priests first began playing football in 1897, the country instantly fell in love with the beautiful game. Soon after local teams and leagues formed and The Mexican Federation of Soccer was finally founded in 1927.
But it’s on the streets of Mexico City where the real passion thrives. Where rival children will shun computer games and the trappings of modern life to kick a ball that lost its last sinew of leather many summers ago, long into the night. And it’s here in the densely populated Santa Cruz Meyehualco that these kids wear T-shirts with their heroes’ names like “Chicharito,” Spanish for “little pea,” scrawled on their backs, and dream of one day playing for El Tri.
So, what drives children to take up the game and play on the unpredictable streets of Mexico City? To ignore the allure of gangs and form tight bonds with their teammates, and choose street soccer over a quick buck or the teenage world of social media?
To children like Marco, Gerson, Alyin, Emiliano, Yair, Edwin, Alexis, Samanta, Diego, Andres and Alenjandro