[EN]: The following post is a personal and game-related perspective of my trip to the Nike Soccer Summit in Portland last month.
I had no idea some weeks ago I was going to be in Portland playing soccer on the 4th anniversary of my blog (7/24). When I was given the opportunity by Nike, I just could not refuse it.
I used to play soccer as a child in South America; I wanted a defensive position for my classroom team, but I noticed I could do better as a goalie. Unfortunately, soccer on the Orange Co. Public School program in Orlando, FL, was almost non-existent when I arrived here to the US. It just wasn’t a popular sport. I didn’t live close to the public schools I went to to at least stop by and play. The MLS did not even exist in the late 80s or early 90s. But that did not mean at all that my passion for the sport was going to stop any time soon.
Though I had no one to play soccer with while in middle school and high school, I did have some videogames to make up for it. Besides the plethora of action/adventures titles, there were only a few soccer titles. The first 8-bit soccer game I tried was the Nintendo one simply titled Soccer (more info here: Goal! (by Jaleco, makers of Bases Loaded) brought a better look to the virtual version of the sport. Nintendo World Cup, a localized version of Nekketsu Kōkō Dodgeball Bu: Soccer Hen originally developed by Technos Japan, was fun. It has those nice super shots.
With the trip to Portland for the Nike Summit, in a way I was brought back to those early years of my life, kind of like when you start going to school and meet new people who want to play soccer with you (if you are in places where people love the sport). In South America, soccer is part of the PE (Physical Education) class activities. I believe that’s why I love watching Inazuma Eleven (aka Super Eleven or Super Once).
Day 1: When I left Orlando, I had no idea the people at Portland were die-hard fans of the sport. I also did not anticipate the Nike Campus has buildings named after great athletes. And the city of Portland has maintained its classic architectural feel. It was my first time visiting that city.
At the Nike Campus, I got to be with about 20 journalists in Portland, Oregon, from all over the country. I was so happy to have been included among them. The first building at the campus we got to be was at the Tiger Woods one, the one place were people were checking out Tiger’s championship trophies and pictures, and lots of soccer shoes, new and old. Great words from Tiger were at one side of the building (more on that later). After some minutes, we entered in to a room showing some of Nike’s soccer products. My second-grade soccer team, for which I played as a defensive player while in South America, wore jerseys like the one from the Brasil team.
All the journalists/bloggers got to see a presentation of the history of Nike, from its early days when it was known as Blue Ribbon Sports, and who were the ones that started the company: University of Oregon athlete Philip Knight and his coach Bill Bowerman. From becoming an American distributor of Japanese shoe company Onitsuka Tiger to the opening of its first retail store, Nike had perhaps not expected how big the company would be. One fact of personal interest: its first pair of shoes was made for soccer players. During the presentation, I learned so much about the company.
After leaving Nike, it was time to first eat and chat, then to rest and write or viceversa.
Day 2: The stay at Hotel Lucia was great. The room where I was seemed modern and compact. I loved the desk, and the view of the city I got from sitting down to write a post was awesome. One weird thing was the hotel’s TV programming service. It had mentioned something about “the hottest N64 games.” You may want to google “lodgenet n64.”
Anyway, we all returned to Nike, and we knew form what we were told the previous day that we were going to play soccer. Lots of memories came to mind. A few people were ready to play, but first stopped at the Tiger Woods building before the actual tour of the Nike Campus. Once at the media room, after some minutes of chatting and looking again at the soccer uniforms and shoes, all journalists got to seat and listen to people at Nike with info about its products throughout the years, and the development of their products. It was really interesting to see how the company’s experts really focus on the making of their products. They consult with coaches and actual athletes on what can make their shoes better.
After the interesting presentation, it was time to check out some more about Nike’s headquarters. The Nike Campus could be described as a university/community center for people who are into sports. Many athletes are remembered and honored by their contributions to the sports they have excelled at. Pictures of stars from basketball (Michael Jordan), football (Bo Jackson), track-and-field, baseball, and many more, can be seen on the way from one building to another, and inside them.
The campus maintains the natural surroundings of Oregon. It looks beautiful on the inside and outside. On the inside of the buildings, there are lots of memorabilia to see like Michael Jordan’s original contract with Nike and shoes inside the Michael Jordan building. The same for Bo Jackson and others: lots of sport memorabilia of Bo in football and baseball. We didn’t get to see Mia Hamm’s building though.
We also got to see talent at the field. Invited soccer players were participating for The Chance, a great opportunity for players to show their skills. Nike’s The Chance is a talent search for new soccer stars. It is opened to everyone who wants to show their skills in the sport. At this year’s, it’s already past scouting and national finals. One player from Florida, Johnathan Lama, is competing in Barcelona representing the US (originally from South America).
It’s time to play
Before we got to play, we got to go to a building and change. Once at one of the two soccer fields, we got a pair of soccer shoes to try, the CRT360 to be exact. I was already excited to play some soccer. It has been many years since I got to return to a field as a defensive player/goalie.
Just like in any sports, we had to warm-up first. I was getting real tired during the warm-up, but wanting to play soccer made me want to continue. My dad and I used to watch soccer matches on TV a lot (in my childhood days). I started having more fun once the warm-up was over. I was practicing ball handling, passing and kicking.
Then, we were all divided into 4 teams. It was time to play some fútbol.
I kept my original position of defensive/goalie in all three matches. I was feeling like a kid again, protecting the arco (goal) from the other teams’ offensive. My team won all its three matches. I felt like a champion. I’m sure the rest of my team, too, felt the same way. The excitement of returning to a soccer field was something I have not had in years. Even though I’m a few hours away from Tampa, I have not had the opportunity to see a Major League Soccer game.
Only the ball entered into my goal once or twice overall in all three matches. The ones who formed my team were very good at scoring.
But it was more than just a victory for my team, it was a celebration for everyone who attended there. I did ask Reyna Hernandez, Sportif Sr. Account Exec., for a picture, one to show our feelings in one image. There are many photos, but you could probably guess which one I’m referring to by looking at it.
Later in the evening, we all went to see a MLS game, my first one. I was so amazed at how devoted the people of the city are about their fútbol team, the Portland Timbers.
The trip was fantastic. Though I didn’t get to stay another night in Portland because I had to return to Florida that same night), not only did the trip brought me back to the sport I grew up with, but also to remember the days I used to watch soccer with my dad. Too bad he’s not among us now, but I know he would have been happy seeing me play soccer again or just talking to him about it.
One of the pictures where I’m at [http://www.flickr.com/photos/elmundotech/7883975946/in/set-72157631297841498] does remind me a bit about the 8-bit NES game Soccer box art [http://nesguide.com/games/soccer/]. Well, it’s back to playing soccer the virtual way again.
Hi to Diego Cardenas (aka CompuHombre), Emerson Quevedo, and José Oliveros at Voxxi, and others. Thanks to Reyna Hernandez and Mario Flores (Sportivo PR) and Nike for the invitation.
[Source/Fuente]: Nike, Inc.; NESGuide.com: Soccer [http://nesguide.com/games/soccer/].
[Disclosure/Divulgación]: Trip and accommodations were provided by Nike for the two days at Portland. | El viaje y el alojamiento fueron proporcionados por Nike para los dos días en Portland.
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