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Stories from the field: What's it like as a Pumas fan?

Angie, a doctor from Mexico based in Mexico City, is a passionate football fan. Her story is so heartwarming that you immediately want to book a flight to Mexico City, have her be your tour guide, and show you Mexico City football culture through her eyes.


In this story, Angie takes us on a journey starting with her upbringing, her faith in Club Universidad Nacional A.C also known as Pumas, and the importance of fútbol in Mexico.


Wandering eyes, this is Angie’s story…



(Photo courtesy of Angie)

 

What’s your name? Where are you based?


My name is Angie. I’m from Mexico City. I’ve been a huge fútbol fan since I was very little. All my family is into it and we take it very seriously 😂 These past 6 years I’ve been getting very invested and interested in women’s soccer and it’s been fun!


Do you remember your earliest memory regarding football? What teams do you follow/support?


My team is Pumas de la UNAM. My grandpa supported them originally, then my dad, and then me of course. Since I was very young, like 8 or 9 years old, I started going to the stadium with my dad. We went to every single local game for like 13 years. If the away game was close to the city, we would drive to the game. We had season tickets for many years.


I’m a doctor, so when I started med school, it became very difficult to attend games and a couple of years after that my parents got a divorce. My dad had to move to a different state for work so that tradition with him kind of faded at the time. I got tickets to playoff games, some important season games every season and started going with friends or with my mom and sister. My dad travels to attend a couple of games a year.


My uncle and aunt are also Pumas fans. Sometimes we all go to Estadio Olímpico Universitario to watch a game. Our greatest rivals are Las Águilas del América and my grandma and aunt are huge fans so when they play against each other, we all go to the game. Both teams play here in Mexico City as América plays in Estadio Azteca.


(Photo couresy of Angie)


Pumas is my main team - they’re the only men I can trust 😂


I’ve always supported Mexico (national team) of course, but I’m more invested in the women’s team now.


In 2015, I wanted to see one of Mexico’s matches in the Women’s World Cup. I got the wrong schedule and turned on my tv two hours before, and the USWNT was playing. I was like, “ok, ok, I’ll watch this one and then Mexico’s”. That game literally changed my life. I don’t even remember what game it was but I saw Tobin Heath play for the first time and became a fan instantly. So I started looking into the USWNT and discovered the NWSL. El Tri Femenil has very little support (things are changing now) but we had no (women’s) fútbol league in Mexico (at the time) so I had to watch and follow the USWNT and NWSL. I’m basically a Tobin Heath fan so I followed Portland (Thorns) and I’m now an Arsenal fan I guess 😂


I try to go to as many games as possible here in Mexico. We have Pumas Femenil now! I try to support Mexico’s women’s national team but they don’t play a lot in Mexico unfortunately. They played for the first time in 14 years in Estadio Azteca this year (2021) and I went to the game with my mom and my sister.


How does the fan environment at a Mexico’s women’s national team game compare to a Mexico men's national team game?


Well, the Mexico’s women’s team had the same coach for like 10 years or something, and then they fired him and changed him for his son 🙃 The team hasn’t been successful. The 2015 WWC (Women’s World Cup) was the last big tournament we participated in - no 2019 WWC or Olympics at all.


Their games weren’t televised at all and they didn’t play many friendlies so the team wasn’t popular. They recently hired Mónica Vergara as a coach and that decision got them a lot of support. Since Liga MX femenil started in 2017, they’ve become more popular.


There really is no comparison. The fan environment is very nice: a lot of families and a lot of people. I was pleasantly surprised but of course the men’s team has a packed stadium every single time and plays frequently here in Mexico.


I hope they (women's national team) get more support. They have the potential to be great contenders for getting more people interested so I’m very excited.


Who are some of your favorite players on Pumas?


I don’t have a favorite player. I have a soft spot for a couple of them per season but my love is for the team as a whole. I feel like their fans are very loyal. We go to the stadium to watch their games even when they’re playing like absolute crap. Even at away games they’re so many of us. We might as well be the local team!


(Photo couresy of Angie)


What would be your dream match to attend in person?


My dream match would be the final of the WWC: USWNT vs México in Estadio Azteca. It’s unlikely, but I’ll settle for any game against the USWNT in Estadio Azteca 😁


What are your thoughts on the 2026 World Cup?


I’m a bit disappointed to be honest. We’re a huge fútbol country and have A LOT of stadiums. We’ve hosted the WC (World Cup) before. We have the infrastructure, but we’ll only have a few games here? I know it’s about the money and blah blah but I’m not that excited right now. We’ll see…


Why do you think fútbol is so important in Mexico?


There’s a saying in Mexico about the three most sacred things to a Mexican: the Virgin of Guadalupe, beer, and fútbol. I think it’s ingrained in our culture.


Almost 50% of the Mexican population lives in what is considered poverty and extreme poverty. There have been a lot of success stories of poor kids becoming fútbol players and even playing for the national team - it’s like a “dream big” concept. We’re extremely passionate about it.


I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to travel to a few countries and have attended Premier League, NBA, NHL, MLS and etc. matches but there is just no comparison. People in Mexico go absolutely crazy over fútbol. I haven’t seen it anywhere else.


What’s been the best match you’ve watched or attended in person?


My favorite match was in 2009. I was 17 years-old I think. It was Pumas vs Puebla, a semi-final game and a home game for us in Estadio Olímpico.


In the playoffs, they play two games. The first one is on a Wednesday/Thursday. The team with the most points of the two games plays the second game at home on a Saturday/Sunday. If there’s a tie, the team with more points during the season is the one that advances.


So we played in Puebla on a Thursday and won 2-1, and then in Pumas’ home, we were losing 2 - 0 - a terrible game. The score was 3-2 favoring Puebla, we were very sad. It was almost the 90th minute and a lot of people were already leaving the stadium. We needed just one goal, but Puebla was defending very well and we had very few shots on goal the whole game.


Then THIS HAPPENED


I was there with my dad and he started crying. I started crying. Literally everyone around me was crying. It was amazing.


Pumas has a reputation for being a mystical team with a lot of heart. We don’t have a lot of economic resources - we’re always the underdog. We can do well in a season but it’s uncommon for us to be “the leader”. Tigres, América, Monterrey, and Chivas have a lot of money.


We’re currently in the semi-finals*. We were number 12. WE barely made it to the playoffs but we went in by repechaje. I don’t think there’s a translation for it but the first eight teams are the ones who advance to the playoffs. Teams 1-4 have their places secured, and teams 5-12 play each other for the last 4 slots. 5 vs 12, 6 vs 11, and so on - it’s just one game played at the home stadium of the team who is higher in the standings.


Our last game was against Cruz Azul, last year’s champions. We needed to win and were down 3-1 at half time. We ended up winning 4-3 and got the 12th spot by goal differential.


Then we won in Toluca to make it to the playoffs. And then we won in Estadio Azteca against América, our greatest rivals, the leaders of the season. Tomorrow we play in Estadio Olímpico against Atlas in the semi-finals and on Sunday in Guadalajara. I’m very very excited.


We had a terrible tournament as we had no money. We brought some players from the fourth division of Brazil. One of them was selling hamburgers for a living, another player was young and retired because he couldn’t make it in first division, but our coach went to get him out of retirement and he’s one of our best players - a few canteranos. That’s our team. We’re making it through!


What’s your favorite stadium?


I actually hate Estadio Azteca. It’s very uncomfortable, the seats are terrible and it’s América’s “house" - so we hate it! My favorite is CU or Estadio Olímpico Universitario. I’ve been there hundreds of times and I have very fond memories.


(Photo couresy of Angie)


Do you think that outside of Mexico, Mexican football is misrepresented/underrepresented?


I don’t think Mexican fútbol is misrepresented. I think people know we are very passionate about it. I do think they underestimate us a bit BUT we haven’t done much at the World Cup to claim otherwise.


What does fútbol mean to you?


I think fútbol means family to me. It’s a very deep link I have with my family, especially with my dad. I get emotional just being at the stadium. We will be champions again and I’ll probably cry. Attending these past games after the pandemic have been amazing. Women’s soccer is now a very important part of my life.


I just can’t imagine my life without any fútbol and if I ever have kids, they will love Pumas too.

 

*2021 season

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