There are a number of reasons why I have picked Chile to be the subject of this epic challenge I am currently half-way through: Family connections, holiday destinations, and the fact the distance is a good fit with Chile’s length! But there is one thing I have discovered more recently that really ties it all together – Chilean Spirit.
Now I might be slightly biased here, but I think we can all agree that Chile have been one of the most exciting teams in this year’s World Cup, playing in a style that nations such as England can only dream of. Exciting play, displays of passion, team spirit and great goals. It was well summed up by one of the commentators last week, who said “Chile don’t so much park the bus, as try to drive is straight through you”. For me the only other team who have come close are fellow Pacific coasters Colombia, who obviously share a lot of the same Latin warrior spirit.
Just take the National Anthems for example. Whilst players from some countries (no names mentioned) pretend to sing along, blatantly struggling to even remember the words, the Chileans give it their all and show genuine emotion, singing all the way through to the end of the second verse even after the music has ended. And then there are the fans, who manage to make as much noise as the home supporters, despite often finding themselves in a small group in the away stand. Yes, they have their moments. The crazy fans who knocked down a wall in order to get into the stadium for the Dutch game, but I guess this will be put down to passion. Can you imagine England fans doing this (other than perhaps to cause trouble…?)
As for results, well aside from beating the Socceroos (easier said than done), how about knocking out the current World Champions, in their biggest victory over Spain since Bernardo O’Higgins led them to Independence in 1818. Added to that, they took the hosts and 5 times winners Brazil to penalties with another inspirational display, to be able to return home with their heads held high. Had the draw been more favourable to them you would have to have backed them to go further in the tournament.
Now for some people their performance was a surprise, but having been able to watch Chile take apart England at Wembley last November, this was always on the cards. Some world class players – Sanches, Vidal, Bravo. They even manage to make a Cardiff City defender one of the players of the tournament in Gary Medel. I have a feeling there will be some serious money changing hands for some of these guys in the next transfer window.
For me the Chilean spirit is well summed up by their national motto: Por la Razon o la Fuerza: By Reason or Force. Not a million miles away from my own personal mantra: No Pain. In other words – keep going however you need to and see it through to the end!