Being a sport fan it was a must that I experience a football game in a South American country. As an Australian I have yet to experience the passion that I normally see on TV from the South American or European football fans. My time in Medellin provided me my first South American football game as one of the local teams, Deportivo Indepediente Medellin [DIM], were playing a league match against Deportes Tolima.
My sister (and travelling companion) discovered that there was a match on during our stay in Medellin so we jumped at the opportunity to go. Knowing only limited Spanish we were sceptical about arranging the tickets to the match. We were staying at Ivy Hostel (which I would recommend if staying in Medellin) and after a discussion with the hostel owner we convinced ourselves it was easy enough to do.
The match started at 5pm so half a day was spent chilling in the park waiting in anticipation for the match. We arrived at the ground at around 3.30pm to get tickets and experience the build up before the match. The stadium was easy enough to get to as it was just of the Estadio station on the metro line.
Our biggest concern was purchasing tickets since there was no official ticket booth. In the end it was quite easy as we just purchased tickets from a scalper selling tickets outside the ground. The ticket cost us 25000 pesos ($12aud) which we thought was quite cheap since beers at an Australian game are around 8aud!
Our seats turned out to be pretty good. We were right next to the home supporters bay. The DIM colours are red and blue so we made sure that we were wearing those colours. The atmosphere before the match was absolutely amazing. They had the marching band walk through the stands and they were chanting and singing their tunes. Banners were hanging off almost every railing and the ground was a sea of blue and red. Something I really enjoyed was the pre-match ritual of pulling up massive banners through the entire northern end of the grandstand.
Something else I found amazing was the fans in charge of the banners were literally standing on the edge of the railings and using the tension in the banner to support themselves. One bit of slack in those banners and they would have fallen right off the edge of the bleachers. And not to my surprise we met travellers who were at the opposite end of the field and witnessed someone fall off the edge and had to be carried away by the ambulance. Crazy I know…..but this is the passion that they display for their team and the whole craziness of attending a football match.
Once the game started everyone was still singing and chanting in the grandstands. There was not one quite moment in the match. The vibration you felt from the crowd chanting in unison and the drums beating was quite intense.
The beat was so rhythmic that you just wanted to get out of your seat and start dancing. Everyone seemed to be really enjoying themselves and having a really good time. There were even a few fans who were dancing up and down the aisles. This is what I liked about games here because back at home you would be escorted out if the stadium for being a public nuisance.
The atmosphere was so electric that I found myself drawn more to the home supporters bay rather than the actual match itself which is weird since I’m a mad sports fan. The opposing team scored early in the first half but the home team had the better of the chances throughout the match.
Half time saw the heavens open up and I thought everyone would run for cover. Not these fans though! Everyone pulled our their ponchos and we were quite lucky that another family lended us their umbrella. After a while the rain got heavier and we eventually had to get ponchos as well.
The rain did not deter the home team’s spirit and they cheered and sang the whole way through the match. The final minutes were very tense since DIM again had plenty of chances for an equaliser but the fans were left frustrated with the lack of quality with their final touches.
After all hope seemed lost DIM scored in the last minute of play. Man did the crowd go wild! The drums got louder and the beat faster. I found myself hi-5ing the people around us and cheering like there was no tomorrow. The exuberance shown in all fans, young and old, was a great feature to experience.
This game was some crazy experience and I thoroughly enjoyed it. And this was just a league match! I look forward to many more football matches in South America.