Camino a la Copa: Crossing the border

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As the sun sets over the mud-brick town of Jesús María, Mexico, we pull into a broad, open-air salon, fragrant with the smell of fresh tortillas. The people seated at a few dozen tables are in their Sunday best: shirts with ties, cowboy hats and ostrich or crocodile boots with long, pointed and silver adornments. The salon is impeccably draped in white and teal linen.

Camino a la Copa

Camino a la Copa is a group taking a five-month journey from Steamboat Springs to Brazil for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Read more columns here, and visit www.caminoalacopa.com for more information.

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Courtesy photo

Brian Morgan, left, Jordan Edwards and Roddy Beall are part of Camino a la Copa, a group that is taking a five-month journey from Steamboat Springs to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup. Along the way, the group will visit 12 countries and put on soccer camps. They also hope to discover the humble beginnings of soccer and the way the game has positive effects on communities and youths across the world.

The center of everyone’s attention is a young girl wearing an elaborate teal vestido, which she holds off the floor as she bustles around, receiving besitos and congratulations from everyone in attendance. This evening is her quinceañera, her 15th birthday, and in Mexico, it is a celebration of her passage from being a girl to becoming a young woman.

In one tear-filled moment, her father presents her with the última muñeca, which is the last doll he will ever give her. On this night, Ana Cristina stands on a threshold of the rest of her life, ready (or perhaps not ready) to step into the next chapter.

As two güero soccer coaches from Colorado, we're lucky to attend such a celebration. Just the day before, we had crossed the border from the United States into Mexico to begin a great journey traveling from Steamboat to Brazil for the soccer World Cup. The beginning of this journey, like the quinceañera threshold, fills us with hope and anxiety.

When we crossed the U.S.-Mexico border, we paused to reflect about the people who choose to immigrate across that border. Crossing that threshold must come with an overwhelming mixture of anxiety and hope. And the inconvenient fact that many people choose to cross the border without a legal pathway is perplexing.

Here in Jesús María, one by one, we are approached by men who once lived in the U.S. but then were deported back to Mexico. David’s entire family is in Michigan, and since he originally left Mexico when he was 10 years old, he feels more American than Mexican. Alfredo’s wife is a lawyer in San Francisco, and she is working to arrange a way for him to come back. Benjamin lived for five years in Denver. Miguel shows us pictures of his son, playing basketball at a Colorado high school.

Their enthusiasm for our country is great, but it is accompanied by an equal amount of heartache.

On this journey to Brazil, we hope that we can discover the realities of many places. We hope to connect with many people and hear their stories.

We are traveling in a van loaded with soccer gear to offer clinics for young soccer players in many towns. Through sport, we all can shed our differences and connect through a common passion. At this point, we take our first step forward in this great adventure.

Learn more by visiting the website www.caminoalacopa.com.

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