Bogotá, COLOMBIA – One of my first memories of getting involved in the excitement around the Colombian National Football Team was in my 4th grade play when at the end they made us yell in chorus, “¡Era gol de Yepes!” or in English, “It was Yepes’ Gol!”
At the time, I had no idea what it meant but that didn’t stop me from being excited at yelling it at the top of my lungs with 60 other kids.
The next few years I continued hearing that phrase, and to this day, it’s still brought up when you mention Colombia and the 2014 World Cup.
In the most important game in the country’s history, the team had for the first time reached the World Cup quarter finals and was going to face its biggest threat yet: Brazil.
In minute 63 when Brazil was winning 1-0, Mario Alberto Yepes scored the goal that would have tied the game, but seconds later it was canceled. After it happened, everyone argued that it should have counted. People still debate this today.
Even though we lost, yelling that line after it happened is one of my fondest memories, and my first contact with the world of the Colombian team.
With fans motivated enough to create a catchphrase that the entire country remembers, and petty enough to continue complaining about a game that happened seven years ago every single season without fail.
It’s such a popular phrase that Netflix used it to promote the TV show ‘Cobra Kai’ in Colombia.
With the American Cup underway as well as the ongoing 2022 World Cup qualifiers, my thoughts are filled again with the Colombian National Team.
In the middle of divisive times, it’s a reminder that we might not agree with each other but this small representation of the Colombian identity still keeps us together.
I’ve never been a football fan, nor do I understand half of the terms that they use during the game.
If you ask me in the middle of it, “What’s happening?”, the answer will probably be, “I have absolutely no idea.”
In the same manner, I’ve never been a patriotic person, always up to the task of criticizing my homeland.
But, while watching the game next to my neighbors and friends, being filled with the excitement of waiting for the result, it’s not necessary to be an expert or extremely patriotic. It’s just hoping that the place you grew up in has a chance in the game that everyone always cares about.
We definitely are not the best team, nor the one with the highest chance of winning. Even with those odds there is always hope that in current times with the America Cup and Qatar Qualifiers there is a chance that they will pull it off.
Today we will face Brazil. Going in we know that we will lose, but even with that in mind there is always hope that a miracle will come, even if the logical part of our brains is saying that it will never happen.
Because if there is a thing that unites this country more than anything it is the Colombian Football Team. It’s the place that still repeats a catchphrase – It was Yepes’ Goal – seven years after it happened, and always remembers the small wins even if everyone else already forgot.
So in this football season the flags will come out with the old jersey that should probably be replaced, all in support of the Colombian National Team playing miles away.
We’ll be watching every step of the way, getting stressed over a game, and celebrating the highs while complaining about the lows.
Ana Fadul is a Reporter with Youth Journalism International.