Football?! Fútbol?! Soccer?!
Call it what you will, the sport brings various cultures across the WORLD together! Is there any wonder why there’s more than one name for it?
As the World Cup proceeds, fans from across the world will continue to watch, and footballers from across the world will continue to well, ball! In spirit of the game, I present to you three footballers with three very different backgrounds, (FYI who happen to all be good friends of mine). Although you won’t catch them on TV in the World Cup series, they are dedicated footballers nonetheless!
John Wilbur is a 30-year-old Business Account Manager, born in Miami to Irish-American parents. Although, he would never call himself a “soccer player” as John takes an active interest in Baseball, Softball, and Flag Football, he has been playing soccer for 22 years, and over the past few years has dedicated every Saturday to playing in the local South Florida Club Sports league. When asked how he got started with soccer, he laughed and proclaimed, “How everyone does. Their parents!”
Also apart of the South Florida Club Sports league is friend and teammate, Gustavo Chacon. Gustavo is a 29-year-old Financial Data Analyst who was born in Miami to Nicaraguan parents. John and Gus play together on the Real Parkour team. In response to my strange reaction to the name, Gus gave me the background in describing an episode of the oddly funny TV show, The Office, where the characters mimicked Parkour, the sport of jumping off buildings and getting over, under, around and through obstacles of the city as fast as possible. He said that the team captain loved that show and that’s how the name came about!
Parkour may be interpreted as silly to some, but as art to others, and although Gus and I never discussed which one he believed it to be, he ironically described soccer as an art form! He explained to me that the reason he loves the sport is that there is a lot of strategy to it. “Even when you don’t have the ball, you think about the next move. When you do have the ball, you’ve got to let it work for you,” Gus explains and pauses to ask me if I’ve ever heard of the Bruce Lee quote, “Be like water,” which just happens to be one of my favorite quotes of all time! Gus concludes his analogy, “It’s kind of like a flow, ‘be like water’ like Bruce Lee says.”
Like John, Gus has been playing soccer for 22 years. Gus affirms John’s mention of how boys get involved in soccer by recounting his dad as the one to get him started with soccer as a child. Gus expressed that soccer has been a father-son bonding experience. Not only has his father taken part in his start in the sport, he currently plays with Gus on the Real Parkour team. “Not too many people can say that they play on the same team as their Dad,” Gus proudly remarks.
29-year-old Shannon Charles also has a strong relation with his father and soccer. Dominica-born to a Dominican (W.I.) mother and Jamaican father, Shannon’s days of soccer began at the age of six. The current South Florida Community Health Worker relocated to Miami with his family as a child and became active in soccer at the local Coral Reef Park. “My father was living his dream through me,” Shannon exclaims with a smile on his face. “He attended all of my games. He was always the one yelling on the sidelines. He took a real active interest in me.” When asked if he felt that he would be the same way with his future son, he instantly professed that he would be exactly the same way. Shannon added that he plans on naming his first son Thiago, after the common Brazilian name, (which just so happens to be the name to 29-year-old Brazilian defender, Thiago Silva). “I can appreciate the way Brazilians play,” he tells me. I teased Shannon in saying, “Yea, just the way Jamaicans play, right?” to which he replied, “Then they [Jamaica] would be in the World Cup!”
In addition to the encouragement and enthusiasm from his father, Shannon’s love for soccer derives from the competitiveness of the sport. He explains to me that there is a “pride in the sport” and that “you get to represent your nation with people from all over the world.” Currently, Shannon plays in three leagues: Play Soccer Miami, CB Sports Club, and Kendall Soccer Park, on the team, Gaza FC. Gaza, rooting from the Hebrew word for strong city, is used by part of the younger Jamaican community as an expression of pride for where they come from and their resilience. The team is made up of mostly Jamaican descendents who play teams from an array of backgrounds such as Latin America, and various parts of the Caribbean.
Granted that John, Gus, and Shannon won’t be playing in the World Cup anytime soon, nor traveling with their teams from nation to nation, football/fútbol/soccer allows them to compete with teams of various ethnicities and cultures from across the world in their shared hometown, Miami, FL. Hence, preserving what I’d like to call the football connection.
Special thanks to John, Gustavo, and Shannon for allowing me to pick their brains and explore the world of football a bit more.
Which sports or activities did your parents enroll you in when you were a child?