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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Boca Juniors and The Amoias of the Americas

Boca Juniors' striker Martin Palermo (C) kicks the ball over his head past Banfield's Victor Lopez (L) and Mauro Dos Santos during their Argentine first division soccer match in Buenos Aires June 12, 2011.
Reuters Pictures logo Reuters Pictures.
Boca Juniors legend, Martin Palermo, in action against
Banfield in June 2011.


One of the great things about the Internet is that the world has become a smaller place. And if you view my quote at the top of this site, I state that the whole world is united by a ball. In December 2004, I received an interesting email. A gentleman in Argentina found my soccer site, and wrote to me. His name was Oscar Amoia, and he lived in Buenos Aires. He was researching our fairly uncommon surname, and found me during a search on Yahoo. Oscar is a Financial Controller for a North American company with subsidiaries around the world.

Common Ancestral Home

Upon receiving Oscar's first email, I responded that my grandparents were from a certain city, and asked if he knew where his family immigrated from in Italy? He wrote back that his great-grandfather was born in the same town of Giovinazzo, which is a seaport on the Adriatic coast. I recall that my father used to mention a branch of the family tree that went to Argentina. Our surname is very uncommon; however, there are other Amoias in Italy. But after a few emails, we learned of a common passion for soccer. In Oscar's case, Boca Juniors, a very famous team with Italian roots. This team has produced such great talents as Diego Armando Maradona, Carlos Tevez and Gabriel Omar Batistuta.

We decided to share our common passion for soccer, and I suggested to create a small site about Boca and Argentine football. Oscar had a wealth of knowledge and personal stories about Boca, along with the historical and cultural aspects of Argentine football. For me, it was important to include Oscar's passionate sentiments about his life-long love affair with this club. 

In Argentina, soccer clubs are comprised of many members such as Oscar, and are not the domain of commercial interests as in other countries. The fans have a tremendous stake in the team, which is a concept somewhat alien to North American sport culture. In the commentary section, Oscar will describe how this system works.

Born Into Boca Juniors

Former Argentine soccer star Diego Maradona blows a kiss from a balcony as he attends the Argentine first division soccer match between Boca Juniors and Banfield in Buenos Aires June 12, 2011.
Reuters Pictures logo Reuters Pictures.
 Diego Armando Maradona at la Bombonera in June 2011.

La Boca, where Oscar grew up, is a neighborhood in Buenos Aires. At the turn of the century, it was inhabited by many Italian immigrants. It was a rather tough place much like many other urban areas around the world. A few Italian immigrant boys decided to form a soccer team. They named the team after their neighborhood, Boca, but added Juniors to give the club an English, or upper crust feel. 

Many teams in Argentina have English names and/or roots. Boca Juniors, Newell's Old Boys, River Plate, Arsenal and Banfield. But Boca represented the Italian experience in Argentina, and as you will see, it is more than just a soccer club. It is a way of life. Compared to Oscar, I was born in the desert of soccer. He grew up in the oasis.
 
I asked Oscar for permission to print some of his commentary about his beloved team, along with the unique role that soccer plays in Argentine culture. To give his thoughts more authenticity, I will provide them first in his native Spanish. I will then attempt to translate his feelings into English.

Mi familia vivió en La Boca, yo viví allí hasta mis 18 años junto a mis abuelos y tíos. Desde muy pequeño me apasionó el fútbol. Te comento que aquí en Argentina los Amoia somos fanáticos de Boca Juniors, un club que seguramente conoces y que aquí es un verdadero fenómeno popular. La Boca es un barrio de Buenos Aires, originariamente habitado por inmigrantes italianos y es allí donde nació Boca Juniors y donde aún se encuentra su mítico estadio de fútbol. El fútbol en este país más allá de ser un tema deportivo es un verdadero hecho social, pasional y emocional.

Adjunto te mando fotos del estadio de Boca Juniors con su gente, su pasión, su emoción. Boca me acompañó toda mi vida desde que nací, grité por Boca, lloré por Boca, sufrí por Boca y fuí feliz por Boca. No cabe duda...es un sentimiento. Quizás ahora las emociones se mezclan ya que no es solo que veo a un equipo de fútbol, veo a mi niñez y juventud, recuerdo a mis amigos, a mi familia, a mi barrio...es todo muy movilizador. 

Cuando fuí joven llegué a seguirlo a Boca practicamente a todos los lugares donde jugara, mi padre me llevó por primera vez a ver un partido cuando yo tenía 5 años...como puedes leer es una cuestión de familia. Aún hoy mi padre sufre con cada partido de fútbol en donde juegue Boca y nos emocionamos juntos ante cada logro deportivo.

Lo de C.A.B.J. significa Club Atlético Boca Juniors. En Argentina los equipos de fútbol son clubes (asociaciones sin fines de lucro), estos clubes se dedican también a otros deportes, por ejemplo basketball, voleyball, etc. No es como en otros paises donde los equipos de fútbol pertenecen a sociedades comerciales o son sociedades comerciales. Asi es que si uno es socio de un club de estos puede practicar deportes además de poder ir al estadio. Con respecto al hecho de ser socio te cuento algo personal. 

Mi tío me hizo Socio de Boca los primeros días de noviembre de 1956, apenas unos días después de mi nacimiento. Nunca dejé de ser Socil, así fue que hace pocos días me nombraron "Socio Vitalicio" de Boca, a esto se accede luego de 30 años de socio a partir de los 18 años de edad, como yo cumplí 48 años merezco esta categoría. Se hizo una ceremonia en el club donde nos dieron la bienvenida a los nuevos socios vitalicios, el Presidente de Boca nos entregó una medalla, un diploma, etc., fue todo muy emotivo.

My family lived in La Boca. I lived there until I was 18 years old along with my grandparents and aunts and uncles. Since I was a young child, I had a great passion for soccer. I can tell you that here in Argentina, we Amoias are great supporters of Boca Juniors, a team that you surely know, and here is a true popular phenomenon. Boca is a neighborhood of Buenos Aires, originally inhabited by Italian immigrants and it was where the team, Boca Juniors, was founded and is the site of the mythical football stadium. Soccer in this country is more than a sporting theme; it is truly a social, passionate, and emotional mechanism.


La Bombonera
Image courtesy of Oscar Amoia.
The passionate cauldron of La Bombonera.

Attached I am sending you photos of Boca's stadium with its people, its passion, and its emotion. Boca accompanied me all of my life since the time I was born, I shouted for Boca, I cried for Boca, I suffered for Boca, and was happy for Boca. Without a doubt, it is a feeling. Who knows now the emotions that already have mixed together that I don't only see a soccer team, I see my childhood and youth. I remember my friends, my family, and my neighborhood. It is very moving. 

When I was young I began to follow Boca practically at all the places that they played. My father brought me for the first time to see a game when I was five years old. As you can see, it is a question of family. Even today my father suffers with every game when Boca plays, and we celebrate each sporting triumph.

The C.A.B.J. acronym means the Boca Juniors Athletic Club. In Argentina, the football teams are clubs (non-profit organizations), and these clubs are dedicated to other sports, for example, basketball and volleyball. This is not as in other countries where the football teams belong to commercial societies or are commercial entities. Such that one is a member of a club and can participate in sports along with being able to go to the stadium. With respect to being made a member, I will share something personal.  

My uncle sponsored me to become a member of Boca during the first days of November 1956, which was a few days after my birth. A few days later, they nominated me as a "Lifetime Member". This took place after 30 years, starting from the age of 18. When I turned 48, I merited this category. There was a ceremony at the club where they welcomed the new lifetime members, and the President of Boca gave us a medal, a diploma, etc. It was very moving. 

The Amoias of the Americas. A common name and passion that spans thousands of miles and kilometers.

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