In all of México, a “Cascarita” is an informal, purely friendly soccer match: there’s no referee, let alone yellow or red cards; all you have to do is kick the ball towards your goal and score. I believe that almost everyone has participated in a Cascarita; what’s better, you don’t have to be a soccer lover! All it takes is for someone to say the magical words: “let’s have a Cascarita,” and you won’t be able to resist.
Our beautiful Yucatán is no exception. Its neighborhoods, villages, and suburbs or Comisarías always give us these moments. For example, in San Pedro Chimay, a suburb of Mérida, children, teens, and adults gather in the main field almost every night at 9:30 pm. You might be wondering, why so late? And how are parents okay with this schedule? In villages and Comisarías, everyone knows one another. Most (if not all) soccer fields are located in central areas, surrounded by homes that keep their lights on. But why do the players agree to this time? For them, it’s perfect: they will have digested their supper, finished their homework, or, if they work, had enough time to get home and change. This way, players and fans can go out and have fun. And let me tell you, it’s always a resounding success, with many teams gathering and constantly competing for the ball.
Are you getting all pumped up to play with them? I wouldn’t give it a second thought if I were you. These games are usually very friendly; if you arrive with a team, there’s always time for a Cascarita, even if it’s your first time there. In fact, you don’t even need a team. Just get there, say you’d like to play, and that’s it! You’re in. Don’t worry about sneakers either; as some say, it’s better to play barefoot. I guarantee that, in these places, you will not only have fun but learn about your new teammates and rivals, their enthusiasm, and their culture. Some always yell and sometimes scold you (oops!) in a very Yucatecan way; some even do it in Maya. One more thing: don’t be surprised if you leave with a nickname. Several players have nicknames based on those of professional players in México and around the world; well, that’s if you’re lucky, because other people get funny nicknames. I have heard nicknames like “El Chicha” (for the Mexican player “Chicharito”) or “Dember” (after the French player “Dembélé”).
Bring all the energy you can! As there’s no halftime here, your game is over when your team or the opponents score five goals, or when the owner of the ball needs to go home. At the end, don’t forget to make time for a “Chesco,” a soda you’ll buy at the nearest Tiendita (corner store) and enjoy while you talk about the funniest moments on the field.
What are you waiting for? It’s time to have fun and get to know Yucatán and its people. Some places where you can go play soccer at night (all very close to Mérida) are Leona Vicario, Tahdzibichén, San Pedro Chimay, Tekik de Regil, and Subinkancab.
By Fernanda Pacheco
Yucatecan tourismologist, starting in the fascinating world of writers and content creation. Ready to show the world Yucatán’s purity.
Photography by Fernanda Pacheco for use in Yucatán Today.
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