“We aren’t Real Madrid or Barcelona, but we play each game with courage and humility,” said Club Social Deportivo Xejuyup manager Miguel Perechu Xum to EFE. However, whatever the fútbol team – made up entirely of indigenous players – lacks in superstar talent it makes up with its inimitable authenticity. Wearing what amounts to a skirt and a colorful top, the team doesn’t have the most comfortable uniform. But it is one that captures the Mayan cosmovisión and speaks to their rich history. The team, located in Nahualá in Guatemala, communicates almost exclusively in Quiche.
In its 34-year history, the players have worn a coxtar, or rodillera. The brown-and-white checkered skirts represent ajaw aq’ab’al – that is the polarity between night and day or dark and light. The top – kutin – has an embroidered collar and sleeves, signifying the nature that surrounds them. The shirts also have four colors, which represent fire, earth, water, and air. The belt stands in for Nawal Kan – Mother Nature’s energy. The team doesn’t want typical football kits.
Remaining true to themselves has made people instant fans of Xejuyup. “People are always happy to see us,” Miguel said. “Regardless of whether we win or lose, they come to congratulate us.” But they’re also not too shabby on the field – something that constantly surprises people, according to the team members.
Xejuyup formed in 1982 when an Austrian team came to play the Deportivo Suchitepéquez. Miguel’s dad, Antonio Perechu, put together an under 20-team for a preliminary match against the Austrian team’s young players. “I gathered the best players from Xejuyup and we won 4 to 2,” Antonio said.
Currently, the team’s divided in two – the veterans and the rookies. Practice typically begins with conditioning before they move onto ball control, one on ones against the defense, and then they finish the session with penalty kicks. Miguel says, “We work hard in the technical and tactical.”
Check them out in action below: