Soccer does not see race, gender, social class or language. Anyone can try to play it and everyone can certainly watch it. Charlie Gibbens, director of housing at UTEP, has been trying to create that sense of inclusion over the past two weeks.
The timing couldn’t have been better considering the fact that the two largest groups of international students are from Mexico and Brazil, which happen to be two countries that have unrivaled passion for their national teams.
“We have a large delegation of international students this year,” Gibbons said. “The two largest populations we have a from Brazil and Mexico, so we did host a viewing party when Mexico played Brazil and it was a lot of fun.”
The Brazil-Mexico game on June 17, to no surprise, pulled the largest crowd and was by far the loudest. Junior social work major Janelle Contreras described the atmosphere as crazy.
“Here, it is dominant with Brazilians,” Contreras said. “They’re jumping up, going crazy–it gives me goose bumps and I’m not even from there. You had people with their jerseys and flags and it was a cool atmosphere.”
Since the start of the World Cup back on June 12, Gibbons and some of the Brazilian and Mexican students have put together quite the gathering at Summit Hall in Miner Village. Big- screen TVs, amped soccer fans and free food have been the norm over the past two weeks.
Summit Hall, was divided into two groups— on one side you had the Mexican students wearing their red, white and green, and on the other side are the Brazilian students in their yellow, green and blue.
Each side was equally loud and passionate about their teams. Considering the fact that Mexico and Brazil are the top two teams in their group is a plus, and the overall mood of the room was joyous and very boisterous.
Senior engineering major, Carla Eduarda Orlando is one of the many Brazilians who attended the viewing parties and she plans on attending all the parties with games featuring Brazil. Orlando is from Curitiba, Brazil, which is the eighth most populous city in Brazil, located in the south of the country.
Orlando likes the atmosphere in Summit Hall, but says nothing compares to soccer back in Brazil.
“It’s really nice watching the game here,” Orlando said. “There are a lot of Brazilians, so we enjoy the game and have a good time. But soccer here is not like soccer in Brazil. In Brazil everyone loves soccer.”
Gibbons said he has seen the outpouring of Soccer fans in the past few weeks and sees no reason to not keep it going.
“A lot of our programming that happens is driven by our students,” Gibbons said. “As long as there is interest and it is not interfering with any finals schedules next week, we will keep doing activities like this all summer long.”
Javier Cortez may be reached at [email protected]