This Love is not for Cowards

this love is not for cowards

This Love is not for Cowards: Salvation and Soccer in Ciudad Juarez, Robert Andrew Powell

A while ago I listened a podcast in which author discussed the premise of the book, and I was intrigued.  Intrigued enough to have it on my wish list for two years yet never pulled the trigger.  The Mexican Primera didn’t quite have the juice of tactics and history of European clubs, but the leader of our local supporters group suggested the book for our first Book Review and that was the impetus I needed to buy it.

Powell took an amazing risk embedding himself in Juarez for several months.  His account of the dangers of simple daily life were startling, making me wonder how anyone could survive day in and day out in that environment.  Time and again, he relayed the attitude of the city residents, who, in the face of overwhelming circumstances, pushed on, creating a normal life in an absurd context.

The Indios climbed from obscurity to the top division of Mexican soccer, hung in there and survived a dramatic playoff run to maintain their top flight status in 2009.  However the 2009-2010 season was awful, with the team setting a record for the longest winless streak in Mexican history, and their futility saw them all but relegated early in the season.  To make matters worse, players were not even being paid by the end of the campaign.

And really the football was secondary to this book.  Powell used his unique placement to inform the readers about the totally different opportunities and environments separated by only a fence.  The atmospheres in El Paso and Juarez were miles apart, which the author put into context by looking from high vantage points into each city and wondering just how this could be.

I give Powell a lot of credit for jumping in with both feet.  From living in the city (the new murder capital of the world), joining the supporters group El Kartel for a roadtrip, engaging the team on an almost daily basis—home and away, developing relationships with players, families and fans, getting involved and participating in the good and bad aspects of life in Juarez.  The book is depressing but hard to put down.  As a cultural and sporting examination, I thought it was quite good and well worth reading.

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For a full list of my book reviews, please visit the Recommended Reading page. And reach out to me with your suggestions as well.

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