Posted by: Jessie Kwak | September 13, 2009

Huancayo soccer–enthusiasm scores higher than skill.

Our first day in Huancayo was quite a success, though Sport Huancayo’s match against Atletico was not. We met up with John de Chicago for breakfast, then moved our stuff to the cheaper Hostal Pionner, which is a bit noisier, but at least we don’t have to sleep in two twin beds pushed together. Huancayo was playing Atletico at 1:45, and all three of us were keen to watch.

John and Rob outfitted themselves with green and yellow Huancayo jerseys bought from a street vendor, and we made our way inside. When we tried to find seats in the common section of cement bleachers, however, we were intercepted by an armed guard. “No no no,” she said. She said something rapidly in Spanish, and the only word any of us understood was “preferencia.”

“Preferencia?” Rob asked. He tugged at the jersey he wore. “Huancayo.”

But she waved us in the direction of another armed guard, who led us to a narrow section of caged-off seats. The Preferential Seating, where dignitaries, players families, and gringos are kept safe. We slouch in our red plastic seats. Rob manages almost fifteen minutes of craning for good shots before he bails to find a better angle.

Yet another nearly-missed goal from Sport Huancayo

Yet another nearly-missed goal from Sport Huancayo

The teams seemed evenly matched in sheer luck and minimal ball handling skills, but from the Preferential Seating section the action was obstructed by metal fences and riot police. The view was set against soaring mountains, dun-colored with pine trees growing erratically like a sparse beard, unspoilt by the houses that climbed up the foothills.

It was hard to see how many people were there, since the two halves of the stadium weren’t attached, and few people made the trek to the west side. A group of rowdy and arrhythmic fans cheered, drummed, and blew horns in the center of that side. There were probably three or four dozen people perched on rooftops watching from a distance outside the stadium.

It was a warm day, dark clouds hovering near the mountains with the threat of rain, but for now the sun was bright and the skies clear. There was no goal as we reached halftime, and the crowd seemed to grow more and more frustrated with the performance. A few bad fouls soured the mood, and the referee stopped noticing the deliberate shoves between rival players.

Rancid Rum Guy, Jessie, the Mascot, and John

Rancid Rum Guy, Jessie, the Mascot, and John

John and I escaped Preferential Seating at halftime, and went to find Rob and his new friend Lincer, one of the policemen who had been learning English and wanted to practice with us. As the game started, he went back to his post, and we found seats next to the rowdy cheering section. Rob went into the fray to take photos, and was quickly drawn in, learning the chants and taking shots from a mystery bottle. The mystery bottle was soon offered to John and I by a toothless, insistent man. “Gaseosita,” he called it, “a little soda,” but it tasted like coke spiked with some terribly rancid homemade rum. We both smiled. “Que rica!”

Sport Huancayo fans

Sport Huancayo fans

The cheering section had way more energy than the players, who would dart after the ball only to give up after a few yards, leaving it to the rival team. There were a lot of poorly executed shots near goal, the ball flying wide of the mark in all directions. The cheering section never wavered in their devotion, made more firm perhaps by the coke and “rum,” and the homemade M80’s they kept setting off near the front row. The riot police didn’t bat an eye.

Rob gets rowdy (John's photo)

Rob gets rowdy (John's photo)

Final score:
Huancayo: 0
Atletico: 0
Jessie, Rob and John: Way too much fun.



  1. I think ‘toothless, insistent man’ may have had more success out there than our friend #7

    good times. farewell Huancayo!

  2. I am loving y’alls exploits. Thank you so much for sharing your adventures! :D

  3. esport huancayo t.l.p.v

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