This past Saturday was the Honduras vs. USA World Cup qualifier match, here in Honduras. The entire country has been looking forward to this game for literally weeks now. Several of us from the Global Brigades team decided to make the pilgrimage up to San Pedro Sula, several hours north of Tegucigalpa, to see the game. It was an incredible experience.
Anticipation was overflowing everywhere. Everyone in the streets had on Honduras jerseys, other people also traveling north where honking and cheering at the flag proudly flowing from the back of my friend’s car. Then when we arrived at the stadium, the crowds were just immense! Inside, however was even more so – with seats sold out, people even crammed into the isle ways and staircases. We entered the stadium several hours early just to make sure we were able to get in, and inside the energy level was as though the game was already in full force, and it was pretty well sustained the entire night.
The crowd was sea of blue and white, and then one tiny little knot of Red where a group of Americans boldly waived an American flag. Although I’m not typically super outspoken about being American myself (I figure that my appearance more than speaks for itself) I felt a surge of solidarity with my countrymen. However, as the game progressed, I found myself pulling more and more for Honduras to win. In the States, even if we make it all the way to the world cup finals, the majority of our population won’t notice or care even in the slightest, while all of Honduras’ emotions hang on the outcome of their team.
It was a fantastic game to watch, with Honduras scoring first and then the US coming back with three successive goals. Emotions in the stadium were bipolar. The level of elation after the first goal quickly followed by the crash after American came back was incredibly emotional. And I wanted so much to be able to celebrate with the entire country, dancing in the streets. It wasn’t to be however, and the disappointment in everyone’s faces was simply crushing. As they were leaving, multiple Hondurans pulled off their jerseys and burned them, right there in the stadium! For the people here, this is about so much more than just the soccer and the game, but this is their national identity; their symbol of national pride in the world.