The World Cup finished this past weekend and soccer fervor has never been stronger.
During the World Cup, cafes and restaurants were packed, people glued to the TV screen as if it were a matter of life or death. People waved the flag of the country they supported. Some even painted their faces to show their support. Friendships were made, and hearts were broken.
When a game was on, the popular Aroma Di Roma Café often became so crowded that fans had to stand. Sometimes the fans of opposing teams watched the game from different sides of the café to make the competition more intense.
“Aroma Di Roma was my go-to place during the World Cup– I would gather all my friends and watch the game there,” said Long Beach resident Max Gorlov. “Usually during half time, we would talk to the people around us to see who was cheering for who. After the game we would congratulate people for their winning team. I made new friends who love soccer as much as I do and I think it was all thanks to the experience the World Cup brought.”
At El Torito, a restaurant in Long Beach, fans were calling in to reserve their seats days before the game.
“My friend invited me to watch one of the soccer games at El Torito, and when I walked in there the place was packed and everyone’s eyes were on the TV,” said Long Beach resident Jizelle Boctor. “I was cheering for Ecuador and so were all those strangers around me. When Ecuador won the match, I felt very close to all of them because we were all celebrating. It didn’t matter who was who, all that mattered that we were all supporting one team. I will definitely miss that, now that the games are over.”
The World Cup excitement wasn’t limited to the TV screen – many Long Beach residents took to the streets to practice what they’d seen.
“People gazing through their TVs, burning with excitement on who will move forward in the World Cup has created a motive for them to play the game themselves and enjoy every minute of it,” said Long Beach resident and street soccer player Jose Zelaya, 19. “Because of the World Cup, I think more people are actually playing soccer.”
Juan Pazmino, 21, has also noticed this trend. “Once it becomes soccer season, you know what, whether you’re a fan or not you’re gonna love it and it’s gonna be everywhere and you’re going to start going out and you’re gonna see people playing and now you’re going to want to play it. So yeah, we’re here and we see tons of people playing it. We’re meeting new faces, meeting new people. ”
One such group of soccer players were so intent on their game that when the sprinklers went off on the field, they ignored the water and just kept playing.
This soccer craze is bringing people together. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a woman or a man. Soccer knows no age and no gender and certainly no skin color,” said 21-year-old Long Beach resident Kimberly Martinez. “It unites people.”
In the video above, VoiceWaves spoke to residents who came out to play soccer outdoors during the World Cup.