Experiencing Football in Panama
The entire stadium partakes in the Mexican wave or how they call it here the "Red Wave".
Panamanians are proud supporters of their national football team and this is easy to see when it’s a match day. Be it a home or away game, wherever you are in Panama that day you will be seeing red! Men, women, adults, kids and even babies will be kitted out with the team’s shirt to show their support. Throughout the day of the match people will wear their shirt to the mall, to the movies and even to work. The taxi drivers will have their football shirt on as well as flags flying from their cab windows. Leading up to a game, wherever you go in Panama you can feel the spirit, the support and the hope that comes from the supporters.
So, with all that support leading up to the game you can imagine how enthusiastic they are when is game time. Let’s start by talking about a home game. Usually (well from my experience) the games begin at 9pm. The stadium on the other hand is open at 4pm, and crowds of people flock there to get their seats reserved. Usually Panamanian time keeping is not perfect; they have the “hora panamania” but for a game, you can be sure that the stadium is full hours before kick-off. The stadium has a buzzing atmosphere, with music pumped through the speakers, as well a live ‘murgas’ pumping up the energy in the crowd. People are dancing, chanting and singing whilst enjoying beers, sodas, pizzas and other snacks that are delivered to their seats. I’ve been in the stadium many times and usually there is a big ‘thing’ organized by fans for the north stand to participate in, we have thrown paper rolls onto the field in mass, held up huge papers to make a giant Panama flag and every time I go the entire stadium partakes in the Mexican wave or how they call it here the “Red Wave”.
When the game begins the atmosphere is still on a high with people shouting support to the team as well as not so supportive comments to the other team. But when Panama scores, oh my, the entire crowd throws their beers in the air, its raining beer! From my experience no matter if Panama win or lose, the fans filter out the stadium in a calm manner and head home.
If the game is away, you can expect there to be game watching ‘parties’ all over the city. Peoples homes, bars, restaurants and even night clubs are opened up, all with special deals on food and drinks to draw in the customers, and although the atmosphere cannot equal that of in the stadium, the Panamanians do a great job trying!
If you are ever visiting Panama, check out if there is a game! Home or away, you are bound to get an experience you are likely to never forget!