Chile’s Colo Colo Makes History (Blast from the Past)

Chilean footbal club Colo ColoToday, June 5, is an important day in Chilean history. What’s that? Not on the official list you say? No pu (as we say in buen chileno), it’s not. There are “official” important days—holidays and such—and then there are days that live long in the hearts of the people. Sure, not everyone can recite the exact date, but there are few who claim no memory of the event.

Let’s be more specific. June 5, 1991. Got it now? Still got nuthin? If you’re in Chile, ask a taxi driver, the person in the kiosko (newsstand), the guy on the street, heck, the guy sitting next to you wherever you are right now… watch them get almost teary-eyed with emotion and pride.

June 5, 1991: Chilean fútbol (that would be soccer in the US) team Colo Colo beat out Paraguayan team Club Olimpia to win the Copa Libertadores.

This. Is. Big.

Make that HUGE to any Chilean sports fan. And I can certainly tell you that a gringa who can trot out that date and fact at will certainly wins points with Chilean guys. Had a long conversation with a cab driver the other day who was clearly pleased that this gringa (who, by the way, admittedly knows nothing about sports in her own country, much less in her adopted one) gave him a chance to relive such a happy moment in his life.

I won’t even begin to try to explain all that’s behind this… just click on the links above so you can do your own sports history legwork, but I will tell you why in the world I remember such a thing.

See, 19 years ago tonight, I was on a plane (Ladeco Airlines, which was Chile’s international airline back in the days when LAN only flew nationally)… Ok, so I’m a budding anthropology graduate student, alone on an overnight flight that would lead me to a new life—although I could never have guessed what lay ahead. I was in that scary-jittery place between terrified and thoroughly jazzed about making my first trip to the field. The next morning I would set down on a land that would lead me to a new language, a new research direction, and I was about to get a cultural introduction that I would never forget.

Somewhere during the night, the pilot’s garbly voice crackled something like “crkgle-grble-cckle-coca cola-garbledy-garbledy” and the ROARS, CHEERS, and raucous APPLAUSE probably knocked the plane off course.

I was stumped. All this over something about Coca Cola? What? They’re giving away a 6-pack at the landing gate? Ohhh… how much I had to learn! Starting with “Colo Colo,” the famed Chilean team that was the last to win a tournament of importance. Ranks right up there pretty close to how Chile hosted the 1962 World Cup and came in third.

I’ve told the story before about how I began to grasp the importance of fútbol, of the pride in belonging, and its place in Chilean culture. See more at:

First Impressions of Chile, which also means that tomorrow, June 6, marks the 19th year of my arrival in Chile.

Want more hardcore info? Check out:

Colo Colo: El sitio oficial del eterno campeón

Copa Libertadores: “Todo sobre el torneo internacional de fútbol de clubes más importante de América


16 responses to “Chile’s Colo Colo Makes History (Blast from the Past)

  1. You mention Colo-colo and my mental hard drive immediately goes into hibernate… but I am glad I read on so I could say… Feliz Chileversario! 19 years! I hope you celebrate in style.

  2. Ohhh the World Cup… Just around the corner, Football! Football all day and everywhere! I´m sure Annje will love it when she and her family arrive ^^^
    Feliz aniversario Margaret!, y que esté ligado a Colo Colo no hace más que llenarme de orgullo, soy un fan del equipo albo, jajaja

  3. Wow! @annje and @marmo! You guys are fast!
    Thanks for the anniversary wishes… 19 years is a long time… and I’d say that it’s also high time that Chile got back on their game–let’s hope for good results from the World Cup!

  4. Wow!
    19 years tomorrow?! I can’t decide if it’s gone by in a fash or seems like lifetimes ago. Most likely a little of both! I like Annje’s Feliz Chileversario!!

  5. @Paramedinurse (aka kiddo-mío) You’re right! A bit of both– I think “where’s the time gone” and then go back to the US and say “where have I been all this time?”
    Bah! thanks for spotting Annje’s comment! I missed that! (but shouldn’t have, she’s very creative!)

  6. Ummm, congrats! 19 years, that’s amazing!

  7. Thanks Kyle! Time flies…

  8. I just wanted to pay back the visit but FOOTBALL (I might already planning how to structure writing my phd around the important matches…). And I also loved your post about the blessing by the cab driver. In short – I love this blog already, how you manage to let us readers peek a bit into Chilean culture by stradling the inbetween. *adds to blogroll*

  9. Well thanks! I can see there will be some mutual blog admiration & support going on!
    Cachando Chile peeps–check out Tale Tellerin’s story-telling blog!
    Doing your PhD on football matches? Cool! I know nothing about the sport but am absolutely fascinated by all the social aspects that surround it! Rich, rich detail there!


  11. Hi Lily–Estimada Colocolina!
    What a coincidence! We traded countries in the same year! I hope you love your adopted country/culture the way I love mine…
    Colo Colo made the country proud 19 years ago… now let’s hope the Selección Nacional can do the same in the coming days of the World Cup!

  12. Absolutely. And actually I’m writing my phd on the perception and representation of Chinggis Khaan in Western literature. Though a phd on football would also be great, the fan culture alone is fascinating. But no. For noe I’m simply trying to still get some work done while the world cup is going on and football will be the number one topic everywhere. 😉

  13. OK- I thought that’s what I had read on your site, so I was surprised by the football comment… so you’ll just have to leave that for the next project!
    Are you an anthropologist? Your project sounds like it would have fit in perfectly with the courses I had in folklore studies (my favorite area!)

  14. Fan culture would be awesome. Or back to folktales. But first good ol’ Chinggis Khaan. 😉

    And nope. No anthropologist though I’m surrounded by the field at the moment. I majored in Mongolian and Literary Studies and am doing my phd in literary studies, but in a grad programme for transcultural studies.

    Also also wow – I just read that you only ever wanted to do a few weeks of field work in Chile? Well. In a way your blog may have more impact on furthering intercultural understanding between Chile and the rest of the world than we tend to reach via academic papers. More power to you, I say. 🙂

  15. Wow! Sounds like a great program!
    But let me clear something up–I came here initially for preliminary research and language study, but always planned to do my fieldwork here, which in fact I did! Several field trips for the Master’s and then 1.5 years of intense PhD fieldwork, for a total of close to 3 years with the women who did the famous Cueca Sola (which Sting sang about in 1987) and made the patchwork arpilleras that traveled the world, telling their tales through images instead of words…
    I haven’t written much about it in the blog, but you can read a bit about the experience here:

    And thanks for the comment on this blog furthering intercultural understanding… that is most definitely the idea! (And my inner anthropologist spilling out all over the place!)

  16. Hi Margaret – It never ceases to amaze me how you gringos and gringas are so with it and on the ball (pun intended!).
    To blog about Colo-Colo is to capture the psyche and essence of being Chileno, unless you are de la “U”.

    I will be reading a lot more of your fun and interesting posts.

    John Carr (Colo-Colino de sangre, born in Chile, lived most of my life in the U.S & Canada.

    P.S. When I say gringo(a) I mean it in the nicest way possible.

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