Though my mediocre Spanish has definitely gotten better since I’ve arrived in Galapagos, I still find myself confused frequently. Whether it be because someone speaks too quietly, too fast, or because I simply don’t know the vocab. Though there is somewhere where the language barrier doesn’t really matter (though it can sometimes help for arguing penalties) and it’s the soccer field! Before leaving for the program, I hadn’t played soccer on an organized team since almost seven years ago, and soccer in general for maybe three or four years. Despite my long hiatus, I decided to bring my $20 thrift store soccer cleats with me to the Galapagos just in case, and I’m glad I did!
Soccer is honestly one of the greatest sports not only because it unites the whole world but also anyone of any skill level can understand and play. Put the ball in the net and don’t use your hands, easy as that. On the island there is one small gym in one of the hotels, but five soccer fields (that I’ve counted). I think that says a lot about the priorities and I completely agree with them. But back to the language barrier thing…
The fundamentals of any sport require movement not sound but as many coaches tell you, talking helps. So, after class one day I looked up Spanish soccer vocab, drew some pictures, and tried to look over it frequently. While on the field I also listened and asked questions, people here are very understanding with Spanish language learners which makes it even easier. Here are some things I have learned:
Cuidado – literally means careful or watch out but it’s the “man on” equivalent for when the opponent is coming and your player might not be able to tell.
Arriba – bigggggg kick up the field, very similar to “clear” or “clearing”.
Afurea – This comes more in handy when we play soccer on the small field and we don’t have enough players for a goalie. When we play like this you’re only allowed to shoot if you’re inside the penalty box so if you think someone wasn’t inside we all start shouting afuera (outside).
Mano – Another phrase we shout frequently, this is for hand balls.
Arco – Name for the goalie. There’s a ton of others online but I’ve only heard people use this one.
Sale / Presión – Pronounced (sah-ley) not sale like in English and it means to leave. Usually in soccer people will say "pressure" when they want you to go and put pressure on the person and I think it’s interesting how they say “leave” your spot and go get the ball.
Now this isn’t a comprehensive list and I definitely have a lot more to learn. I also don’t even know if this vocab is super regional to the Galapagos or Ecuador but maybe another aspiring deportista or deportisto going to the Galapagos can use some of what I have learned! Until next time, always watch out for random dogs on the field. It will happen often and yes it is funny every time.
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<p>Hello! My name is Rachel Seyler and I'm going into my junior year and I am studying ecology and evolutionary biology & environmental studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder. I'm studying abroad in Quito and the Galapagos Islands via direct enrollment during fall 2021. During my free time I enjoy snowboarding, hanging out with friends, and hiking. During my time abroad I'm very excited to expand my Spanish skills, learn about the local culture, and explore in depth the unique flora and fauna that the Galapagos and rainforest entails.</p>