Here’s a list of words you are most likely tired of hearing right now: coronavirus, self-isolation, and unprecedented.
Well, let me give you three words I’m sure you haven’t heard during this COVID-19 pandemic; Nicaragua Primera Division.
Yes, you read correctly. For the first time on beINSports.com, the little known league in Central America makes an appearance… and for a very good reason. It’s the last remaining football competition on the American continent.
“Nicaragua has caught the attention of a lot of people from many countries who normally wouldn’t look at this league,” explains Managua FC striker Carlos Felix.
“The repercussion (from coronavirus) has been good on the league, that people are very interested and have come to know about the Nicaraguan league.”
Managua team-mate Pablo Gállego agrees: “Of course I feel the league is getting a lot more of attention, but what really matters the most is for the virus not to spread here in Nicaragua, football comes after.”
At the time of writing Nicaragua only has five confirmed cases of COVID-19. Central America’s largest country is on high alert but life continues largely as normal, although football matches are being played without fans.
“It’s a weird feeling”, says Felix.
“I believe football is a spectacle, and like all spectacles it needs spectators.
“It’s very complicated because when there are fans you get extra motivated.”
Football for Nicaraguans is providing a much-needed distraction from the coronavirus chaos gripping the world, but with the league boasting many foreign players, Gallego admits it’s difficult to remain focussed on just playing.
“It’s getting harder lately because our minds are with our families in Spain and all the people suffering around the world.
“It hasn’t been easy to deal with this situation, even though we know people are following through social media or TV, which lifts us up and gives a bit of extra motivation.”
Cuando llegué a este club, nunca pensé que encontraría ese calor y esa humanidad tan grande de familia verdadera. Pudimos levantar la copa , peleamos la liga hasta la prórroga y representamos con honor al club en Liga de Campeones. Orgulloso de todos vosotros compañeros, gracias a la barra, al club y a la gente por el apoyo #losleonesvolveranarugir 🤲🦁
Managua FC are currently top of the table in the Clausura championship – the league is split into two parts. Nine wins from 12 matches have Los Leones Azules (The Blue Lions) two points ahead of 16-time champions Real Esteli. The two teams meet tomorrow at 4 am Mecca.
“As they say, football becomes a psychologist, making you forget everything that is happening around you,” says Felix.
Nicaragua putting its hand up to feed football-starved fans desperate to some live action.
Translation - Pablo Faggiano & Karla Silva Escalante