BOOKED! This Love Is Not For CowardsRobert Andrew Powell brings to light the passion of the beautiful game in a city full of horrible atrocities
by Chris Enger | Tuesday, May 01, 2012
The city of Juarez, Mexico is known for many things beyond soccer. The New York Times labeled it “the Murder Capital of the World” in 2012. The border city itself has often served as a symbol for the failures of the war on drugs. However, there is more to Juarez than just the negative perception that it has, perhaps justly, received.
In This Love Is Not For Cowards: Salvation and Soccer In Ciudad Juarez Robert Andrew Powell has firstly written a book that appeals to soccer fans, but more than that he rivetingly explains the circumstances that surround the problematic city of Juarez and the followers of the Juarez Indios, the local soccer club.
“The most dangerous city in the world,” as Juarez is often called, captivated Powell, because of “all those murders.” Powell ended up spending a year in Juarez. While there, Powell not only imbedded himself into the city and with the local soccer club, the Juarez Indios, he followed the team as an author and as a fan becoming a member of El Kartel, the rabid travelling Indios supporter’s group. Upon his return from Juarez, he came home with a story of people who, in the worst circumstances, cling to the hope for a happy, better tomorrow.
During his time in Juarez, Powell was able to obtain amazing access to the team from the owner and his family to everyone associated with the team. The struggles are seen in the team faces throughout the year that Powell follows them. The stories surrounding the players and fans appear, at times, unbelievable to those unaware of the situation in Juarez.
The Indios are in their first year of top-flight soccer in the Mexican League and are on the verge of being relegated when Powell begins to follow them. Each chapter captures the remaining games during the second half of the Indios’ season, but that is just the structure for what transpires throughout Powell’s initial year in Juarez.
Being a story of not only soccer but also of Juarez itself, the book involves tales of embezzlement, kidnappings and horrific murder in a city that truly never sleeps. Powell finds himself talking not just with soccer fans, but citizens that have been touched by the drug violence that entraps their lives.
Powell brings together the under exposed tragedy on the American-Mexican border: the drug violence, the murders and the genocide. Nevertheless, it is not solely a book about death and deviance. Even as families are fleeing the city at a rapid pace, Powell imbues his reporting with the hopes the residents have not only in the local soccer club, but for a stronger, better Juarez.
In each chapter, Powell picked a theme from which to express each story while including a mini match report and hometown reaction to games. The chapter on faith incorporated how Juarez residents express their faith with stories of survival and “close calls” that were credited to the providence of God.
Most fascinatingly, Powell finds himself slowly growing to accept the violence around him. He nearly misses being in the wrong place at the wrong time more than once. At one point, Powell watches a former Indios player playing for Pachuca at the comfort of a bar as two car explosions detonate just a couple of blocks away and how the scene of violence and murder didn’t affect him. Moreover, this, in itself, is what is climactic about the story: Powell’s own growing desensitizing to the events around him.
This Love Is Not For Cowards is as intriguing as it is educational in its scope and topic. It will entrance readers from the outset.
Pickup your copy from online book retailers and in US bookstores everywhere. List price is $25.