United through Football: Team Uruguay

United through Football: Team Uruguay

In celebration of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, we asked some of our community ambassadors to talk to us about their national teams. Despite Uruguay having been knocked out of this year’s tournament, Gabriel D’Angelo from Radio 3ZZZ, answered a few of our questions about football in his country of heritage. Read more about Uruguay and football from Gabriel below.

What is your role in the community?
I don’t have a specific role in the Uruguayan community but as I work in a community radio station I deal with many people from different backgrounds and organisations so I guess my role in the wider community of Melbourne is a little bit broader than just the Uruguayan community.

What do you love most about your role?
I get to be able to expand on my skills and abilities in the industry that I work in every year plus I get to work on projects with large organisations such as the AFL and Real Madrid. Through my role I’ve been able to meet with some amazing and interesting people that I wouldn’t be able to if it wasn’t for my role.

What does the FIFA World Cup mean to Uruguay?
It means everything! Uruguay is a football mad country that has the sport well and truly entrenched in its DNA. The history of Uruguay’s involvement with the world cup and with football in general is too immense to ignore so it’s a matter of great pride for the nation whenever they participate. The fact that such a tiny country with a small population has won 2 world cups is a major influence in Uruguay’s affection for the world cup. Not much is known about Uruguay except through its football team and players so it’s a source of great national pride for many Uruguayans when the national team do well. The players are not just footballers but ambassadors who sell the notion of pride, humility and responsibility that comes with wearing the sky blue jersey of Uruguay.

How did you feel when Uruguay qualified for the 2018 FIFA World Cup?
A great sense of joy that Uruguay qualified and relief that they did so without having to go through the intercontinental playoffs this time! It was sensational that Uruguay finished 2nd in the South American qualifiers behind Brazil as Jose Mourinho himself said, “The South American Qualifiers are the hardest in the world”.

How passionate are football fans from Uruguay?
Very passionate, probably a little too passionate at times! Football is not just a sport but a basis of the culture of an entire nation. Plays and songs are written about football and what it means to the people of Uruguay, kids play at a very young age, the nation stops whenever the national team plays, football is much much more than just a game to these people, it’s most definitely a way of life.

Who is your favourite Uruguayan player and why?
My favourite player is the captain and defender Diego Godin. He drips and oozes leadership. I love his no-nonsense approach to football whether it’s for club or country. He fully understands that with wearing the armband comes great responsibility, that being captain of Uruguay is an honour and privilege and not a right that is handed to just anyone. I also got the chance to meet him once and he is so extremely nice and friendly. I’m a big fan!

Where does the expat community gather for huge games like this?
They usually gather at the Uruguayan social clubs of Melbourne and Sydney to watch the games.

If there was only one destination in Uruguay to visit, what would it be and why?
That’s a hard one because there are two places that I highly recommend for different reasons. La Paloma is an amazing beach town to the East of the Country that is laid back and relaxed while Colonia to the West is a place stuck in time that makes you feel as if you went in a time machine and arrived back in the 1800’s. I recommend either place depending on what you like more.

Vegemite is the food Australians love. What is Uruguay’s “Vegemite”?
Definitely Asado! Asado is a type of BBQ that is extremely popular in Uruguay in fact the first time I went to Uruguay the whole country smelt like the burning embers of charcoal on the spit of a BBQ! It’s all about meat and BBQ over there. If you’re a vegetarian I highly suggest not to visit Uruguay as you will be isolated!

What is your favourite festival from Uruguay and why?
Carneval is a great occasion where many people gather in the street to see the dancers, singers and performers take to the streets in their colourful clothes and light up the night with their amazing acts. The rhythm of the drums (tambors) from the drummers marching through the streets definitely gets the soul fired up and makes your heart oscillate widely. It’s amazing.

What do you love most about Australia?
Australia is a country that allows people to really go after whatever their heart desires. It’s an open and accepting country where anyone can achieve anything they set their minds to. The great thing about Australia is that it’s a nation that continuously evolves in different ways. Every culture can add their brush strokes to the canvas that is Australia. It really is the lucky country.

Who’s your tip to win the 2018 FIFA World Cup?
France are an astonishingly good outfit at the moment. They have some good young players that can set the agenda of any game. They are also at their most deadly when they are quiet off field, whenever there is drama they capitulate really badly.

Anisha Mistry

As the Editor of CulturalPulse, Anisha is passionate about listening to, writing and sharing stories of Australia's multicultural achievement. Got a story to tell? Get in touch: editor@culturalpulse.com.au