Every four years,faithful Mexican soccer fans gather at San Gabriel parish on the seedy side of Mexico City. On their knees they earnestly pray to a wooden icon of the “Child of Miracles”,which during the World Cup,is surprisingly dressed in a green Mexican jersey,red socks,white shorts,and a brand new pair of tiny Adidas soccer shoes.
These fervent prayers seeking divine (soccer) intervention have seemingly gone unanswered. Four consecutive World Cups have passed and almost 20 years since the Mexican national soccer squad have advanced beyond the round of 16,and of course,Mexico has never held the title. Although past requests seem seldom answered perhaps this year the Miracle Child,indeed,may be smiling on Mexico.
In 2010,Mexico does seem to have something magical going for them. They have the strongest national team in recent memory,they beat the U.S. twice just 10 months ago,and put down the current title holder,Italy,only a few weeks ago. Last week,Mexico shockingly dismantled the frazzled French team,2 to 0,sending them spiraling out of the tournament and this week,they eliminated the contest’s host,South Africa,in the opening round for the first time in the World Cup’s 80 year history.
Whatever the “divine” destiny of Mexico’s miracle squad may be,one thing’s for sure. They are now counted among the 16 best soccer teams in the world with a clear shot at the Cup itself.
In a lowly San Gabriel church on the dodgy side of Mexico’s capital,parishioners still gather to pray at the feet of a soccer adorned “Child of Miracles”. When asked why they pray,they simply reply,“I’m praying so that they advance.” Perhaps this time someone is listening.