My name is Oscar González Garduño, I am 33 years old, I live in Mexico City; I am a lawyer by profession and a fan of the Club Universidad Nacional by conviction. Through this text, I will take you by the hand through a story of love and passion where the Club Universidad Nacional (better known as Pumas de la UNAM and which is the professional football team that represents the National Autonomous University of Mexico) and I, are the protagonists, and where, from time to time, characters will appear who are, were and will be important in the development of the story that you are about to read.
The first memory I have regarding Mexican football was during the 1994 FIFA World Cup, played in the United States. At that time, I was 7 years old and I really did not care much about football, but I remember the excitement that was experienced everywhere by the participation of the Mexican National Football Team in that World Cup. Unfortunately, that tournament was the first of many disappointments that I would experience with El Tri, as it was knocked out from that tournament by Bulgaria in the round of 16.
But what does that have to do with my love for the Pumas? Little, really, because football was something that did not interest me, but that marked many beautiful memories for what would later become my passion for football as a sport and for football as a fan.
In Mexico there are very popular teams, there are historical teams, there are teams that have a regional rivalry without becoming relevant at the national level, but all of them have played an important part in the development and history of Mexican soccer. It is said that in Mexico there are four “big” teams, which are actually the most popular, and among them we have Club América, Club Deportivo Guadalajara, Cruz Azul Fútbol Club, and the team I love, Club Universidad Nacional. In recent times, teams from northern Mexico have challenged the popularity of the “big four”, more specifically Club de Fútbol Monterrey and Club Tigres of the Autonomous University of Nuevo León, but still without reaching the national popularity they would like to have.
Club América and Club Deportivo Guadalajara are the most popular teams in Mexico, they are the teams that play “El Clásico Nacional”, and therefore, they are the most media teams nationwide. Club América has historically been the team with enormous economic power, the team that buys the best Mexican and foreign players; on the other hand, Club Deportivo Guadalajara is a team that throughout its history has played only with Mexican footballers.
My real interest in football began when I was approximately eight years old, thanks to the media power that both Club América and Club Deportivo Guadalajara have, it was how I decided to support Chivas, the nickname of Club Deportivo Guadalajara. The reason that made me support Chivas at first was that, as I mentioned earlier, they only play with Mexican footballers, but that support for the club would last for a short time…
When Rodrigo, my older brother, a lifelong fan of Pumas, realized that I had become a fan of Chivas, made a decision that would completely change my life and my passion for football…
It was a morning in 1997 when my brother, who is 13 years older than me, without telling me anything and giving no clues as to where he would take me, as a surprise took me to the Estadio Olímpico Universitario, home of UNAM, host stadium of the 1968 Olympic Games, as well as of four matches during the 1986 FIFA World Cup.
That morning in 1997 was something that marked my life and something that remained etched in my memory for eternity. Walking next to my brother along the tunnel that leads to the bleachers, how huge the football pitch looked, the smile on my face as I looked at my brother and I gasped for a moment living such an incredible experience, are valuable memories that I treasure the most in my life. From that moment on, everything changed… from that moment on I became a Pumas fan.
Since then I fell in love with Pumas, I fell in love with their colors, with the faithful fans that accompany them through good times and bad times, with their history (Pumas was the team that promoted the careers of footballers like Hugo Sánchez, Jorge Campos, Manuel Negrete, Luis García, Alberto García Aspe, Héctor Moreno, among many others), of its shirt and everything that surrounds the team.
Pumas is not characterized by being a winning team; Throughout its history, Pumas has rather been characterized as a training team for footballers, a team that supports the careers of young players who later leave the team to make room for new emerging young talents of the lower teams of the Club Universidad Nacional. Despite this, Pumas has managed to be Mexican champion seven times, Cup Champion and Second Division Champion on one occasion, as well as three times CONCACAF champion and once Inter-American Cup champion.
From 1997 until today, I have seen Pumas be champion four times, I have seen the team lose finals (the most recent one just a week ago) and important matches where my heart has broken, I have seen them play important international tournaments such as the Copa Libertadores and the Copa Sudamericana, I have traveled to cities like Pachuca, Puebla, Querétaro, Toluca and Tijuana to support them. Also, throughout these 23 years as a fan of UNAM, I have made a collection of Pumas shirts that to date consists of 37 pieces.
Pumas, for me, is more than a football team; Pumas is an important part of my life. With Pumas I have had many joys and also many sorrows, thanks to Pumas I have met good friends and people who at some point in my life were and will be important in my life history even though our paths have separated, by following Pumas I have met others cities in Mexico where I have lived experiences that have made me see life from another perspective. With Pumas and for Pumas I have been happy, I have suffered, I have sung, I have shouted, I have cried, I have hugged, I have loved… I have known what a true passion is… what a life is, my life in blue and gold.
The Mexican journalist and writer Germán Dehesa, who was a fervent Pumas fan in life, summed up in a few words what it means to be a fan of the Club Universidad Nacional: “Being a Puma is an act of hope, it is a profession of faith, it is a long patience, a prolonged stoicism between a few joys, it is a cry that drowns and, worse, being a Puma is inalienable.”