The football field may traditionally be a male domain, but in a small village high in the Andes it’s the best man, or woman, for the team, as Summer Davis explains…
“Heading up through the terraced mountains of the Sacred Valley, we prepared ourselves for an afternoon of ‘local interaction’ with the Sacaca community. But this was no ordinary visit, because on this occasion our Intrepid Cuzco office decided to challenge these hearty mountain Quechuas to a game of football.
Upon arrival to the over 3000 metre (9840 feet) high village, the sun shone through blue skies and onto green and gold fields. We were greeted by some 15 villagers with alyiyanchus (hello in Quechua) and gentle handshakes.
After some brief, simple conversation, we decided to get down to business and asked where was their team. “Alla estan” they pointed us to the football field, where five community women in traditionally embroidered skirts, long braids and rubber sandals stared us down in front of their goal, ready to begin the match. We assembled our team, which seemed bigger than theirs in all ways. While the other team’s ojotas (sandals) flew off with every hard kick, our players swapped out frequently for lack of breath. Only our hard-core Argentinian Destination Manager sweated, ran and scored throughout the whole game, dominating the Sacaca team with fierce relentlessness.
Why weren’t the men playing? It was explained to us by the men themselves that the Sacaca women were some of the best in the Sacred Valley. They had their own team and had even travelled to the next province (8 hours away) to compete in a football tournament. As the men of the village looked on from a grassy knoll, I admired their respect for their women. I myself respected the women’s undaunted determination at taking to the field in shoes and skirts – the likes of which I couldn’t even imagine wearing as a spectator. What an amazing experience – definitely no losers this day!”
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* photo by Emily Mitterhuemer