If baseball is America’s pasttime, futbol is Haiti’s. The excitement of the World Cup is not lost there even though Haiti has not made it the World Cup since 1974, their first and only appearance. You will find large groups of friends and family gathered around the tiny tube television you donated to charity years ago. There is usually a quite technical antenna ritual performed by a few people, trying to find the best possible reception. Wilson’s antenna is currently bound to a ladder and leaning against the roof of our house.
Watching international futbol is exciting but a local game is where you really want to be. Teams generally represent individual villages though this is not a specific requirement. Wilson plays for the Pont Grassia team, where he lived for the last few years before we got married, but he also joins individual matches for other teams that ask him to play. There are two types of futbol in Haiti: the large field is what you are familiar with but there are also smaller fields with tiny goals and about half the number of players. It’s still amazing to me that they score any goals in the latter as it seems the goalie doesn’t have to do much to cover most of the goal. But it’s a fast-paced game and you can see more of the action right in front of you. Some villages have fields set up more permanently, but for this tournament, Lagossette Anba (Lower Lagossette) set up a new field. The perimeter is lined with palm branches to keep the ball in and to keep out the curious eyes that haven’t paid the entrance fee. It’s usually no more than 10 gourdes, or about 25¢, and lots of people come to watch and participate. Wilson just might be the only Haitian who is habitually on time (I love that about him) so we arrive at 5:00 for a 5:00 match. The two teams may be fully present around 6:00 at which point they change into their uniforms on the sidelines, the shy ones behind their motorcycles, and start warming up. An average start time for the actual match would be around 6:45. Nearly every time we are told “this is a very important match, it will start at 5:00 for sure!” and nearly every time it starts much closer to 7:00. But this is Haiti and although I’m not sure it will ever be natural for me, I’m learning to get used to it.
Does anyone play on an adult soccer team here in LA/OC? I would hate for Wilson to give up the game he loves so much when he gets here.