Patti McGill Peterson Center for International and Intercultural Studies
Influence of Soccer on the Identities of Marginalized Latin American Youth
My name is Ali Stabler, and this past summer I spent three weeks in Valparaíso, Chile. I spent the first semester of my junior year abroad in Valparaíso, and decided to go back with my CIIS Independent Research Grant to investigate the topic of my senior thesis. I am looking into the influence that soccer has on the individual and collective identities of marginalized Latin American youth. This thesis ties together the wide array of my three areas of study here at St. Lawrence: a double major in Psychology and Spanish, with a minor in Sport and Exercise Science. With my CIIS Research Grant, I was able to return to Chile and learn first hand about Latin American soccer and its effects on Chilean youth.
During my three weeks in Chile I was able to speak with a wide range of people regarding this topic, including soccer players of all different ages, soccer fans, affiliates of soccer clubs, and my professor from my previous semester abroad. After interviewing my professor on the topic, he brought me to the barrio he grew up in, whose soccer club is called Real España. There I spoke with three boys ages 6, 9, and 16, who are avid soccer players and fans. From these interviews I learned about the strong passion they have for the game, and what an important role it plays in their lives. In addition, I spoke with a 49 year old man from the same neighborhood who is still a devoted soccer player. He gave me insights on not only the youth he watches play every weekend, but also on the influences of soccer on adults. Finally, while I was in the barrio, I spoke with the president of the soccer club. He told me about the inner-workings of barrio soccer clubs, and how they influence the children, and their families, that play for them.
In addition to my interview with my professor and the affiliates of the barrio soccer club, I spoke with an extremely passionate soccer fan of 23 years of age. He roots for the Universidad de Chile professional club, and is very knowledgeable about the soccer hooliganism culture in Chile. He informed me about the underground world of the fan clubs for each professional club, their inner-workings, and their history. With him I watched many games on television, and even attended a Universidad de Chile soccer game. At this game I was able to see and take part in the fervor the fans have for the game, and feel how strong their passion truly is.
Overall, my time in Chile gave me a lot of valuable insight into my thesis, and gave me first hand knowledge of a passion that can only be experienced in order to be fully understood. Currently, I am working with my advisor Dr. Ilia Casanova-Marengo on continuing my research on this topic with the resources in the ODY library here on campus, and connecting it to the valuable experiences I had in Chile this past summer.