A Late Night in Paraguari

It was, for us, a late night in Paraguari and, as the clock struck 7:30, Kaia was gallivanting around her school grounds with familiar classmates, while we looked on in a disoriented stupor.

A jumping castle’s blower wailed, music blared from speakers and children darted to and fro screaming in a sugar induced frenzy. All while, capping things off in the corner, a group of young, teenage ‘musicians’ hammered away on drums in an apparent attempt shatter glass back in the capital of Asuncion, two and a half hours away.

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A-T-T-E-N-T-I-O-N

It was Paraguari’s version of Chuck E. Cheese, only minus the bad pizza.

“Do you play soccer?” was the simple question that had made the night possible. A simple question, however, with no easy answer.

Technically, yes, I’d played. Once, at the age of 8 where I vaguely remember little more than having lost every game. Another occasion, while getting cut from Jr. High School tryouts and, in the process, getting punked by the coach (to the snickering amusement of his ‘boys’). And then twenty or so years later in St. Thomas, USVI when agreeing to what the captain and I thought was a pick-up game among friends that turned out to be anything but. There before half of Charlotte Amalie, I’d pleadingly gasped to the ref to call time as our depleted ‘team’ would lose by close to 20 goals as the island’s futbol aficionados howled at the sight before them.

Such memories still fresh, a polite “Hell No” would’ve been justified. But this was different and something

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Go Team

special, I told myself. This was an annual community event that, among other things, apparently involved the pitting of the different grades’ fathers against each other in a friendly, two night, 5 on 5 soccer tournament on the school’s outdoor basketball court. And, as it was a community we were lucky to have our daughter somehow a part of, agreeing to participate only seemed to make sense.

At least it did at the time because, let’s just say, as we stood there in there amidst of what seemed like the sights and sounds of a Black Friday shopping stampede (with 8 pm and Kaia’s bed time coming and going with no sign of any game time start) we were having second thoughts.

Second thoughts that weren’t exactly quelled when, at 830, we’d find ourselves amidst a parade like presentation of smartly uniformed teams led by straight backed flag bearers. All of which, strongly suggested, this community event we were a part of was a pretty serious affair.

If any doubts to the contrary existed, they were instantly banished the moment the referee blew his whistle to start our game. Between the pinpoint passing and ball control, the body checking and bazooka like blast shots on goal, these boys were for real.

That said, I knew I’d found my happy place…right there on the sideline. At least, until near the very end, up by two goals, when I find myself all but forced to recapture a bit of my past GORY days. A chest burning two minutes resulting in two touches that resulted in one pass, no turnovers and, if I do say so myself, a stellar shut down defensive performance. None of which, of course, Kaia would manage to stay awake for.

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Our MVP’s  proud son

It wouldn’t be much but it’d be two minutes more than the following night’s heatedly

contested matches would allow for. Two titillating matches both won in dramatic, come from behind, penalty kick fashion. Two amazingly well-played games no amount of money would’ve been enough to make me want to step onto the court and potentially ruin.

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The Spoils of War

They’d be two victories resulting in Kaia’s Maternal-Pre Jardin class being able to hoist the first place trophy. An award something tells me will see the men playfully jabbing each other in the ribs till next year.

As for me, I’d get all the reward I could’ve hoped for. An invitation for some victory beers and, better still, the opportunity, years from now, to remind Kaia about the performance she has her whole life to regret having slept through.

The night her father propelled her class’ team on to the championship round by scoring the winning goal-on a cat like bicycle kick, no less—before getting carried off the field on the shoulders of a group of guys whose names he never even got.

Once and for all…finally, a winner.

 

 

 

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2 Comments

  1. Corin Kaough July 26, 2016 Reply
  2. Corin Kaough July 26, 2016 Reply

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