Saturday, February 26, 2011
Jamaica vs USA Soccer Match
Yesterday I went to my first football (soccer) match between U.S.A and Jamaica. It was the semi finals in a tournament for boys under 17yrs old. The tournament itself was a big deal but this particular match carried more weight; Jamaica had made it to the semi finals, they were going against the U.S. and on top of that the game was played on Jamaica Day, the day different from the country's Independence Day and you wear Jamaica colors and stuff. The people that I knew out there said they were going to go, they wanted to see Jamaica defeat the U.S., I figured I'll go, I had nothing else to do and I felt a bit of American pride and wanted to support the U.S. That has been something that has grown deeper within me since being here. Through Jamaica is my birthplace I don't consider myself Jamaican in the sense of "love of country" nor do I consider it home. I'm Americanize, I consider the U.S. my home and it is where my heart lies. Since being here I've had to defend against those in argument who want to trash the news. Most of the time not by choice, people hear my accent, presume I'm American and would direct their argument or dislike against the U.S. towards me in the form of "Your country" or "The place where you love some much" and so on. Since I feel more connected to the U.S. than Jamaica the match gave me a reason to relax a bit, enjoy something and cheer for the home team, my home team.
By the time we got to the match it already started, typical black folks and their CP time. I had no idea the volume of people that would be at the match. The ticket booth was swamped with people trying to buy last minute tickets including us. There wasn't any order to the process and everyone rushed to the window in hopes of getting a ticket. But they were sold out. People ran to various entry gate trying to see if they could get in, some wanted them to take their money and let them in without getting a ticket and others wanted to and indeed starting jumping the fence. It was a bit chaotic. It was clear that the organizers wasn't prepared from the volume that showed up nor did they have enough tickets the sell. Some people that couldn't get in stood on a fire truck to see the match, others were calling whoever they can to find out if they have an extra ticket or where they could get one. It was an event and this was a match against high school age boys that's what made it more amazing to watch. We were finally able to get some tickets which by the way wasn't tickets for that particular match. They were old tickets from 2008 when Jamaica played another team, event the location of where the ticket said was wrong. By this time it was half time of the game, I quickly found out that getting the ticket was the easy part, actually getting in was a challenge of itself. When we got to the entry gate the best way to describe it was chaos, people were packed against the gate wanting to get in and the police on the other side literally were pushing against it trying to stop them. At one point they stop letting anyone through, bad move. The crowd went in a rage, you heard all kind of profanity and people complaining how they have their ticket and want to get in etc, etc. One of the guy I went with I followed him in the crowd and got caught in the mist of the chaos but with his determination he was able to get through the gate before they closed it. After minutes of arguing with people and trying to figure out how to handle the flood of people trying to get in the police reopen the gate, I manage to squeeze my way inside. I didn't go through all of that and was so close to getting in to not make it. When we got in the second half already started and when we reach the bleachers we saw it was completely full. There was nowhere to stand let alone sit and hardly anywhere to walk, standing room only. But at least we were inside. The stadium was beautiful, very open and I was told it was recently built. The level of noise and cheering that took place I admit was beautiful, typical of what you see on TV when a soccer match is on. The bleachers literally were shaking from people stomping the floor and having a good time. It was hard to believe this wasn't a professional match but a match for minors. The U.S. already scored one goal in the first half but people were still supportive of Jamaica and with every touch of the ball, every goal attempt, every push into the U.S. side of the field they cheered. At this point I didn't want to verbally cheer for the U.S. around so many die hard Jamaicans especially with Jamaica down 2-0 and there's nowhere to run in the event I needed a quick exist but those I was with knew who I was going for. Jamaica did lose by 2-0 but it was a great turn out. There was nothing but yellow, green and black colors and the support they showed up until the last minute was heart warming. Given the match was between minor I felt most of the people should have stayed to the very end to showed their continued support and encourage the kids win or lose. But overall I'm glad I went and took the experience in and saw first hand the love of football Jamaica has. It was chaotic, exciting and beautiful wrapped into one. Not the mention my home team won…. lol