Outside of the U.S.A. in most other countries, especially in South America, futbol (or soccer as we say in English) is king of the sports world. Much of the culture, and particularly the news revolves around this popular sport. Some might even dare to say that such fanaticism could be comparable to religion, and possibly rival the Catholic Chuch, which is immensely prevalent in Latin America.
Peru, therefore, is no different, and soccer games are being played all the time at all levels, from pick-up games in the streets and concrete “conchas” (fields similar to basketball courts) to local organized leagues and even professional matches. As I grew up playing soccer my whole life and still love to play, I have been rather spoiled to be in such a soccer-fanatic environment, and furthermore was delighted to find that there is actually a local soccer concha right adjacent to the Belen Clinic.
On Thursday afternoons, a group of taxi drivers play pick-up at the concha near the clinic. I recently asked if I could play with them, and they kindly obliged. I found that skill-wise I had no trouble competing, but am still not quite accustomed to the altitude, and would become short of breath quite easily.
A quite a big jump up from the local pick-up games in the conchas is the Peruvian professional league, in which Cuzco has a team, called Club Cienciano. Interestingly, the club team is named after a local high school (colegio), the oldest in Cuzco, called Colegio Nacional Ciencias del Cusco (National School of Science of Cusco). Janie and I had the opportunity to see Club Cienciano take on Club Alianza Lima. Unfortunately, Club Cienciano of Cuzco lost, but it was still a great game and a great experience – we are looking forward to more home games in the near future.