When you talk about Argentine soccer automatically a word comes to mind, potrero. More than one has affirmed that the best have come from there and reality confirms it: Ángel Di María, Juan Román Riquelme, Carlos Tévez, to name just a few. A separate topic for the one who best understood the capricious, that curly-haired little boy who did what he wanted even with a rag ball, Diego Armando Maradona. The dirt courts were always fields of dreams for thousands of young people who yearn to get to wear the shirt of their precious club, but what happens when that flame goes out. At that moment, the paddock becomes a job, a way to earn a living.
The sub 21 is the amateur soccer team that is revolutionizing the Buenos Aires suburbs. It was established a few years ago in the south of the province, specifically in the area of Lanús. This group of five friends is made up of boys who shone in the lower ranks of clubs such as Atlanta, Arsenal de Sarandí or Huracán, but could not establish themselves in the first division. The technique of each one is remarkable and the collective game even more so, it is impossible not to think that they are not better than more than one playing in the Professional League.
Seeing them play surprises anyone, it is not the typical 11 against 11 sport that one gets used to seeing on television, this football is very different. The 5 vs 5 format, the smaller and more concrete court makes it look like futsal, but its rules are different. And yes, the paddock happens to have rules regulated by a referee when there is a lot of money at stake.
This fury for the sub 21 has made them become authentic Globetrotters of the suburbs. They never play home, they always go away. Hundreds of fans are brought to each court, eager to see them with the ball at their feet. The most loyal followers are those who put in the money and bet, they overflow with confidence towards their team. “Out of every 10 games, they make me win 7,” said one of the fans who follows each game.
Boys love to play soccer, but clearly that is not enough to live day to day and support a family. They appear almost every day and take between three thousand and five thousand pesos per game. They generally always play the all-star, whose pot is clearly the largest. A few days ago they came to play for a million pesos. Of the total, half is taken by the players in addition to a percentage of the tickets since they count on the fact that the attendance always increases with their presence. In this gambling field, they are real celebrities who walk through the crowd and ask for photos.
Some of them have work and divide their time, but others only dedicate themselves to the team. They live by playing football, which in these instances ceases to be an amateur. The pandemic caused more than two thousand promotion players to leave their club because they could not survive, but this betting football never stopped.