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11 Oct 2011
From La Pirraya to the Olympus? via Ravenna
El Salvador National Team enjoys great recognition after excellent performance in this last FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup
Today, children in El Salvador find no difficulty in reciting by heart the names of the new national heroes: José Eliodoro Portillo, Baudilio Antonio Gardado, José Medardo Lobos, Wilber Joel Zavala, José Roberto Membroño, Tomás Antonio Hernández, Walter Alexander Torres, Elmer Atilio Robles, Elías Alexander Ramírez, Darwin Daniel Ramírez, José Agustín Ruíz, Francisco Hernándo Velásquez and Rudis González Gallo. The unparalleled success of the Salvadorian National Team in such a top-level competition as the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup 2011 became one of the strongest landmarks in the country’s sports history, and turned its protagonists into some of the most recognizable names in the Central American Nation.
The FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup have absolutely changed their lives. Although they keep trying to lead their lives as quietly and devotedly as they did before Ravenna, they cannot skip being constantly greeted and congratulated, just as their names keep appearing day after day on newspapers, radio stations and TV. This necessarily comes with their new status as national heroes. These fishermen from the humble region of La Pirraya are now one of the biggest prides by the Pacific Ocean, after giving such a master lesson on self-esteem, passion to represent a country without forgetting one’s origins and unity to fight together after huge opponents.
30 days after leaving the Italian shore with an historic 4th place, the Cuscatlecos keep collecting prizes and gratitude wherever they get to be, from one end to the other in their country. Having done such a great job in such a competitive and spectacular modality as Beach Soccer have merited them being, even, more admired that their counterparts in eleven-a-side football.
The appreciations came from many different organisms and states, even from the President of the Republic himself, Mauricio Funes, who decided to reward the members of the National Team for “what they have done to ennoble the name of our country”. Besides, “As a recognition to their effort, their sacrifice, their nationalism, their humility, their courage, their leadership and devotion”, the country’s Asamblea Legislativa (Legislative Assembly) voted to name “Hijos Meritísimos de El Salvador” (Very Illustrious Sons of El Salvador) the players and coaches of the Salvadorian National Team, title they just received in the country’s Parliament House.
Together with these celebrations, many private companies have decided to contribute to this success, making the lives of the members of the team sweeter with new furniture for their houses, new motorboats to help them in their daily jobs as fishermen, new electrical appliance, economical donations to improve their training conditions, etc. It’s the payback for all the happiness and joy they sent the country from the Adriatic shore this same September.
Altogether, it has turned a busy days for the footballers and manager of the ‘Selecta de Playa’, as they have travelled from one place to another to take part in official receptions, inaugurations of schools, public events and homage, etc. But one of the biggest opportunities that these success have brought to these athletes is the chance to get a good education, something they feel really grateful for. As maybe the most illustrative proof about the origins of the squad, the team’s captain, Agustin Ruiz, have got the chance after this success to begin his lessons to learn to read and write, in what he feels the awakening of a new stage in his life: “It makes me real happy to think in writing and reading, as it is something I need. It will be very beautiful for me and my family and I want to learn to do it in a few months. I can’t wait to”.
Despite all the excitement around them, and the grandiloquent responsibility they have far fulfilled, Agustín, Frank, Lobos, Elías and co. keep their feet down to earth. They know what they need for their lives, they know what is the most important they have to fight for, and they know they need to keep struggling to survive in the fiercely competitive Beach Soccer highest level. We will be waiting to enjoy seeing them do it on the sand…