Last Tuesday I had the honor of accompanying our kids to a national football game in San Mateo Flores (where we held the special olympics)...and not just any game. This was the last game of Carlos Ruiz Gutierrez's career. Who is Carlos Ruiz? He's the capitan and all time post-season high scorer of the MLS, born and raised in Guatemala City. Known as "el pescado" or "the fish" he has played all over North, Central and South America for the past 16 years. He has qualified for the World Cup five times and on Tuesday night he showed us how: by scoring five goals in a 9-3 win against San Vicente Las Granadines.
We were super blessed because we weren't there to just watch the game. We were invited to participate! Before it started they ushered all of us into the locker room. El Pescado came in and greeted us, posed for photos and accepted a gift from NPH. Then our kids walked onto the field with all the players, carrying the Guatemalan Flag and their 2018 Qualifiers flag on national television.
In typical rainy season fashion, it rained throughout the entire game but honestly, we were having so much fun that no one cared! The kids wore trash bags and the adults cheap ponchos that we bought in the stands (we didn't fit in the trash bags).
At the end of the game Pescado was taken out with less than five minutes to go. He hugged and high-fived each of his teammates before passing off the Captain's armband. After the game was over he waved and threw kisses to the crowd and then his teammates doused him with gatorade before throwing him in the air over and over. It was a pretty awesome moment.
I feel so blessed to have been included in this game. It was literally a last minute thing (I found out about the game and got permission to go less than an hour before we left) but something I'm pretty sure I'll remember forever. Oh and the President of Guatemala was there so a couple kids went up to snap a photo with him. That's twice now that NPH has run into the president. Not something that happens back home!