Alternative tourism: Football crazy in Huaraz

I ’m a big sports fan and my obsession with coordinating my trips around football fixtures has allowed me to share a stadium with people from all over the world. Though I wouldn´t consider myself being a groundhopper, I have seen football matches in Romania, France, Poland, Hong Kong and as of last Saturday, Peru.

Not everybody thinks of football before going to one of the world’s most famous adventure hubs, but before I arrived in Huaraz, I made sure to check when either Sport Rosario or Sport Ancash F.C. would be playing in Huaraz’s Estadio Rosas Pampa. On Saturday the 16th of September I went to see Sport Rosario play San Martin from Callao in a 1-1 draw, and as usual, I felt lucky to have had the experience, one not recommended on TripAdvisor, but one which should be.

There are a few reasons for this, and none require knowledge of the offside rule.

The stadium in Huaraz is an 18,000 seater brutalist cauldron, but in my experience old school means atmosphere. The tiny ticket windows were just like the English lower leagues, and after paying 20 soles for the West Stand (tickets are as low as 12 soles), I was able to sit wherever I pleased, the seating resembling several tiers of long stone benches. Although the stadium was sparsely populated, everyone packs tightly into the same areas for the best views. I was obviously a tourist, complete with Sport Rosario jersey, but neither me nor my girlfriend felt out of place.

People arrived throughout the 90 minutes, called over to seats by friends and family, and kids and dogs ran around the stadium for more or less the entire game. It was a community gathering of people who wanted Sport Rosario to win, and no one seemed left out. There are fewer gender stereotypes surrounding football in South America, a continent that is unconditionally crazy for the sport. It was nice to see men and women of all ages getting equally as passionate about a missed chance or dodgy decision. None, however, were as passionate as a group of Huaraz ultras in the east stand, each wearing a replicate kit, singing and jumping throughout, and spontaneously covering their side of the pitch in blue and yellow ribbons to the referee’s dismay.

Normally as a tourist, your longest interaction with Peruvians are in the context of tourism; in restaurants or agencies, where the focus is often on you as the customer. In the stadium you can share an experience with 5,000 locals who have gathered together to support their team, whether that’s Sport Ancash F.C. or Sport Rosario.

If you’re looking for something different, and less strenuous than a five day hike eating dehydrated rice, consider taking part in the national and continental pastime of football. If nothing else, it’s an excellent opportunity to learn new Spanish profanities!

Additional info:

What: An alternative experience…and a football match

Who: Sport Ancash F.C.  or Sport Rosario, Huaraz’s two professional sides

When: Every other weekend (during the season)

Where: The Rosas Pampa Stadium, a 15 minute walk from the Plaza De Armas

How much: 12 – 25 soles

Author: Frederick Clayton
Picture: Frederick Clayton with Sport Rosario jersey

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