Soccer is an activity that is very special to me. It began with my older brother teaching me to kick the ball when I was four years old. Then some of the most special moments and friends in my life were from playing soccer in high school. Even though I haven´t followed professional soccer much these years, I have been able to play regularly since I have moved to Barranquilla. In fact, it is one of the top 5 things I love about this city: how easy it is to find pick up soccer games. So far I have played in Parque del Sol, La Castellana, La Jaula en Americano, Wimbley, Soccer 53, Uninorte, El Brazileiro, and more. It is a great way to meet new people, get in new social circles, get exercise and de-stress, and see new parts of the city.
It all begins with a friend. You have to ask around and almost immediately you will find someone who knows a game somewhere. Then, you go play. After, they might add you to a Whatsapp group (a cell phone application that allows both individual chat and group chat), and this is where the magic happens. Usually, each group will play once or twice a week, let´s say Tuesday evenings and Saturday mornings, although you can find a game any time, any day that fits your schedule. Seriously, any time. So if the game is Tuesday evening, Sunday night and through the day Monday someone will say, "Martes hay partido. Quien va pa esa?" Or, "There is a game Tuesday, who´s in?" People quickly respond if they can or can´t, and once the list reaches the right number (depending on size of field) they call and reserve the field.
Once you get in one group, the rest is history. Maybe one off day someone will say, there is another group playing today and they are short, "Quien se apunta?" Then you play with another team, get in their whatsapp group, and so on. It is all about Whatsapp here.
Because one can make new friends, get in new social circles, learn a new register of the language, get great exercise, de-stress and have fun, playing soccer is by far one of the best benefits of this Barranquilla.