View from our seating area

View from our seating area

During my stay at the Happy Buddha Hostel in the upmarket district of El Poblado, Medellin, I am approached by a gentleman in a football jersey. He keenly promotes the playoffs match that evening featuring the widely supported local team of Atletico Nacional against Deportivo Cali. I had no hesitation in putting pen to paper for a seat at what was described as the equivalent of a bullring.

Atletico Nacional was associated with the infamous drug Lord Pablo Escobar who owned the club during the 1980s. Ironically this was the clubs biggest era of success in terms of silverware. He attracted the country’s finest talents with heavy financial backing through his Medellin Cartel empire.

A sea of green and white

A sea of green and white

At 5pm local time and not Colombian time (excuse the pun) we crowded up in our departure bus. Our guide was insistent that the Atletico Nacional flags he gave us must be displayed outside the windows. Those sat closest to the doors had the unenviable task of maintaing a firm grip on the flagpole for the whole duration of our journey to the stadium. Suffice to say that going with local fans allowed us to immerse ourselves in their religious pastime of futbol.

On arrival at the Atanasio Girardot Stadium we were ushered by our guide to the stall displaying a plethora of green and white. Indeed these are the football colours of Atletico Nacional. It was as good as mandatory to purchase a jersey each and that in turn led to a snapshot of us all with flags and scarfs aplenty to make it postcard worthy. Thereafter every second word we said was Nacionalas we chanted to the drumrolls of the partisan atmosphere prevalent outside the ground.

Nacional Newcomers

Nacional Newcomers

Given the thankless task of organising a group of 25 tourists to attend the game amongst the soaring local crowds, our guide gave us our tickets and yelled (a rare illustration of urgency amongst the locals)goas he directed us into the entrance area to where our seats were located. Once seated we had a one hour pre-match build up and this was just as pulsating as the game itself. Different factions of the crowd were singing in celebration of the clubs most storied players.

At 8pm local time the match was underway we were all desperate to witness a home goal in order to hear the gargantuan roar of approval that awaited from the home fans. We got our wish and were lifted off our seats and felt a different type of highthan the one most synonymous with this city.

The end of the ground where the veteran fans are based

The end of the ground where the veteran fans are based

Whilst in decades gone by there were question marks over the legitimacy of Atletico Nacionals matches, there was no disputing the result on this occasion. A 3:1 victory gave the home fans an excuse to carry on their celebrations post-match and the theatre only ends once the lights go out in this panoramic stadium.

Links to previous articles:

http://b-c-ing-u.com/2016/08/14/lords-lbw-lagers/

http://b-c-ing-u.com/2016/08/07/green-gives-goosebumps/

About Ranjit Shergill

I love opinions whether I agree or disagree with them and as such writing presents me with the golden opportunity to share my views across a large landscape of readers. My aspiration is to draw viewership from all backgrounds, thereby reaching out to a worldwide audience. Whilst on a flight to India when I was seven years old I sang jingle bells for the whole duration of the flight. This subsequently led to my growing interests in aviation and indeed travelling. I currently work in Sports Analytics and see my job as a privilege getting to watch sport which most followers would do for free! It is safe to say that I am addicted to travelling, whether it be going on off the beaten track experiences that I endured during my trip through the backroads of Central America or going on city bike tours in glamorous settings such as the River Danube. I embrace cultural hotspots and feel that travelling combines exciting adventures with humbling life experiences. I currently reside in my hometown of Harrow in London, United Kingdom. Given that London is one of the most visited and storied cities in the world, I feel very privileged to have grown up in such an environment. !