martes, junio 09, 2009

Tulane, Taihuichi and T-Shirts

This afternoon, I biked over to the Tulane Library to empty out the carrel I have been using all semester. After getting off the elevator, I noticed a young fellow in the upstairs lobby. He was wearing a yellow Taihuichi t-shirt. I couldn't resist mentioning that I would be in Santa Cruz a week from tomorrow.

Taihuichi is a world famous soccer academy. Many of Bolivia's most famous players (Marco "El Diablo" Etcheverry and Jaime Moreno - both stars on the Bolivian national team and DC United) trained there. It was formed in 1978 to involve youth from impoverished areas of Santa Cruz productively in sport and, through the talent of its staff and head coach Rolando Aguilera Pareja, it formed a team which was extraordinarily successful in Latin American youth competitions. Taihuichi invites young soccer players from abroad to participate in their training program and help support the non-profit academy.

Hal, the Tulane student, spent 6 weeks at Taihuichi two years ago. He said it was the most difficult thing he had ever done in his life. The training was so arduous that he was tempted to fake an injury. When he returned to high school in the states, he was offered a number of athletic scholarships. He eventually transferred to Tulane which doesn't field an inter-collegiate soccer team. However, Hal plays in a Latin-American league in New Orleans. At the moment, he was finishing a semester paper for Prof. Martin Mendoza (a visiting professor of political science from La Paz.)

So, clearly, the real function of a t-shirt is as a conversation starter.

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