Trip Start Sep 28, 2011
332Trip End Ongoing
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Where I stayed
After an uneventful morning, I was wandering the Leon streets through a lazy afternoon, when we chanced upon a game of football. On a small, run down five-a-side concrete street pitch, boys of all ages were facing off. It was fast. It was intense. It was passionate. with the busy road running by and pedestrians almost unaware, these boys were playing their hearts out. I asked my friend Christina to enquire if I could play. If I was back in five minutes it was on.
I bolted back to the hostel, donned my Liverpool long sleeve away top, swapped the flip flops for trainers, and nearly fainted charging back to the court.
The boys play a winner stays on game. Teams of five take turns to compete, to see who comes out on top. It's played at breakneck speed on a pot holed court, which is very slippy underfoot. I try my best, but it's been too long and these guys play everyday, all day. They're also all out to get the gringo...
As it gets dark, I attempt to ask if the floodlights are going to come on at the corners of the pitch. In broken English and Spanish, I glean that the government will not pay for the electricity. Nobody seems to care.
The sun drops below the buildings, the light begins to fail and the games draw to a close. Some thirty plus boys now have nothing to do. The spectators also slip away, and as I'm staggering up the road, a shadow of my former self, a fight breaks out, spilling onto the streets. What a surprise eh?
I want to know what it would take for those lights to be turned on. When I return to my hostel, I begin some research. In about an hour, I've sent three emails off. One to the biggest supplier of solar energy in the world, one to my local five-a-side centre, and one to the very top; Liverpool FC. At the moment I am just one voice, but with a bit of luck, I can get the ball rolling to achieve something here. At the very most, a fenced, floodlit astroturf pitch with goals and nets, at the very least, someone flicks on the light switch. It would literally brighten up their lives.
I lie awake on my pillow. I don't know why I hadn't thought of it before, but marrying football with volunteer work makes all the sense in the world to me. I begin to dream of the changes that could be made and the positive impact it could have. I close my eyes, relishing the fact that the possibilities are endless.