Posted by: Jessie Kwak | October 20, 2009

Juan Aurich vs. Sporting Cristal at Chiclayo

I can’t go anywhere with him anymore. Once Rob shows up at a football game with a home-team jersey and his camera everyone wants to be in a shot.



We were swarmed almost instantly by children. A 9-year-old named Yirner sat next to me right away, and began asking questions. He was wearing a blue jersey and trunks from his gradeschool—turns out that he’s a forward and team captain. I asked him if he’ll play for Juan Aurich when he grows up, and he nodded. Either them or Alianza.

Yirner and his buddy.

Yirner and his buddy.

He was a quiet kid, not demanding, curious and confident, explaining things to me and answering my questions, then firing them right back to me. He grew quiet as the game went on, drawn into it, taking his cap off and robbing his head when Aurich came close to scoring, but didn’t.

This was by far the most intense of the games that we’ve been to. The stadium was all but full, and the energy of the crowd was electric.

Our side (the south) was hung with banners in red and white—the other side was hung with blue. Sporting Cristal had a good showing and a lively cheering section (though we couldn’t hear them for the loudness of our own). While we had been buying tickets the Cristal supporters had been escorted in by police guards, chanting and jeering. One Juan Aurich supporter threw something at him, a bad move which got him chased down by a police officer and whacked a few times with a club.

Serious fans.

Serious fans.

The game began with clowns on stilts in red and white, and the entire stadium hurled red balloons and home-made confetti onto the field. The confetti was cut from the pages of newspapers, in the bright sun and light breeze it floated and glittered in the air. The rowdy section pumped the air full of red smoke, a powder that smelled like tempura paint blasted off with CO2 containers. We were far enough away, but in the rowdy section they wore their shirts up over their noses and mouths to breath. People did the wave, and jabbed at the air vigorously with red balloons labeled with the logo of the telephone company “Claro.”

Smoked out.

Smoked out.

Drums and air horns beat a frantic rhythm apart from the trumpet and chants. On my other side sat a bread vendor, a kid of no more than 10, blowing his nose in his shirt and watching the game with his basket of bread forgotten. He bought a lollipop and it melted all over his hands.

Yirner told me that the best player is #9, which happened to be the number on the back of Rob’s new jersey. But early on in the game he was injured and had to be driven out in the back of a golf cart, rather than carried out on stretchers like they normally do.

The second half of the game remained without a score, though Juan Aurich kept the pressure on and many attempts were made. Beside me, Yirner shook his head. There’s not a lot of time left, I said. He sighed, looking miserable.

The match ended in a draw, and Rob and I streamed out of the stadium with the rest, celebrities even though we weren’t the ones sweating out on the hot field for 90 minutes. Quite a strange feeling….




  1. enjoyed your account!
    much better seats than i had for a football match in puerto maldonado — near the end of

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