Wednesday, August 25, 2010

My Valued Souvenir from Perú

Jersey of a Historically Black Peruvian Soccer Team

Alianza Lima, winner of 22 national titles.

As I strolled through one of Lima's most dangerous districts, La Victoria, where the Alejandro Villanueva Stadium, which houses Perú's famous Alianza Lima soccer team is located. People came over to me jubilantly shaking my hand; others drove by giving me the thumbs up and honking their horns shouting ALIANZA LIMA-A-A-A-A-A-! These folks, are hard-core fans of Alianza Lima. It was the jersey that I was wearing that attracted so much positive attention for I too am a fan of Alianza Lima.

El Nene (the Kid) Teófilo Cubillas, Peru's all-time leading scorer and two-time world cup soccer star.

Before my first trip to Perú, many warned me about venturing into La Victoria, particularly alone. They told me that I was crazy and that this district is no joke. When I arrived in Perú, the family with whom I was staying also warned me about La Victoria. But I had to go. To help ensure my safety, I hired a taxi to show me around. The only time I got out of the taxi was to take pictures of Alianza Lima's stadium, named after Alejandro Villanueva, considered the first great soccer player in Perú's history.

Alianza Lima's soccer stadium, is named after Alejandro Villanueva, pictured on the right.

Several days later, I got a little bolder and took a combi (van serving as a bus) into La Victoria's main square and started walking around. Someone greeted me with the word's, ¿Qué pasó, familia? (what's up, bruh?) I just smiled, waved, and kept stepping. He most likely thought I was Afro-Peruvian, I didn't want my gringo accent to reveal otherwise.

Even U.S. President Barak Obama is a fan of the historically black Alianza Lima. “Poder Grone” means “Black Power”

The reason I'm so fascinated with La Victoria and its team Alianza Lima, or Alianza Lima Grone (Grone is Negro spelled backwards) is that this historically black team has won 22 national titles. This is the team that produced superstars such as Alejandro Villanueva of the 1930s and Teófilo Cubillas who was part of the Peruvian national team that won the 1975 American Cup, and reached the quarter finals at the 1970 and 1978 World Cup competitions.

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