When I heard that American football was being played in Tijuana, I had to double-check my semantics. Soccer, the more popular ball sport here, is commonly called “Football” or “Futbol.” But, no, I was told that actual American football – not the soccer variety – was becoming increasingly popular among the city’s younger generation.
Last month, I got a chance to see this for myself when I went to an American football game in Tijuana against two junior high teams representing Tijuana (the Jaguares) and Mexicali for the state championship. The moms of the Tijuana kids had made up their own cheerleading chants in English and Spanish (see video below). A drum-pounding dad provided back-up to the cheers as the Tijuana kids took home the trophy.
My initial theory of how American football ended up in Tijuana was that a fair number of Tijuanans cross the border regularly go to San Diego Chargers games. But it turns out, according to this ESPN story, that American-style football was started in the state of Veracruz where some Mexican students who had been studying in the United States organized an impromptu match in 1896. The article explains how football has taken root in Mexico slowly but surely over the year, even becoming established in certain Mexican universities.
This year, in another development, the Mexican junior division(American Football) national team won a spot to compete in the 2009 International Federation of American Football (IFAF) Junior World Championship.