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For as long as I can remember, I have been wearing Colombian flag colors somewhere in my outfit probably more than once a year.
Of course there's Colombia's Independence Day every July 20th, but there's an even more special time when I was taught to rock my Colombian pride harder than ever - soccer season.
I've never been much of a sports fan, generally speaking, but as the daughter of two Colombian immigrants, it's a special kind of something to wear the colors of the flag of where your parents came from.
World Cup 1994 - Colombia
I specifically remember World Cup 1994 quite vividly. Although I was only 4 years old, I remember my canvas material poncho with the Colombian logo that I wore and my awesome kids soccer ball with the cute little soccer dog mascot (something similar to the one below).
And, of course, I will always remember Carlos Valderrama because who could forget his bright, blonde curly Afro (it just magically glows - see below) and so he became my favorite Colombian soccer player.
But, it wasn't about what I was wearing, really. It was much more than that. I remember more how I felt and how my family and other loved ones made me feel about having Colombian pride in my blood as I heard them yell the infamous "¡Gooooooooooooool!"
It was about passion, drive, perseverance, but most importantly, I think, it was about having a connection to where you came from, connecting with family that still remained in Colombia and connecting with fellow Colombianos that were also immigrants in the US or their first generation Colombian-American children like me.
Watching my parents and their friends intensely support la Seleccion Colombia taught me to be unapologetic about expressing my Colombian roots.
World Cup 2014
In 2014, I was living in Charlotte, NC so I wasn't anywhere near my parents or family members to celebrate the fact that Colombia had returned to the World Cup after 16 whole years!
But, I knew how important this was to be loud and proud about. I had no time to order a Colombian flag online so I did some investigating and was able to find one within a day and bought it from a friend of a friend.
As an adult, I could now wear my Colombian heritage louder than ever. I played all the classic Grupo Niche and Joe Arroyo I could find. I can't explain the type of energy you feel listening to that kind of music - it's a vibrational energy that you can literally almost feel flowing through your blood and spirit.
For some reason, this feeling is amplified when you're celebrating a win from the Colombian soccer team riding with your windows down and blasting the traditional Cumbia sounds of Colombia Tierra Querida.
World Cup 2018 - Teaching My Little One About Colombian Soccer
This year, the Colombian soccer team will be playing its first match in World Cup 2018 starting on June 19th at 8am. Rest assured that the newest member of the Rojas family will be rocking his Colombian baby soccer jersey!
Looking back now, I realize how important it was for my parents to expose me to Colombian soccer and all its cultural richness although they probably didn't even realize it at the time.
Knowing this now, I plan to teach my little half Colombian, half Dominican little guy the same lessons - embrace who you are, learn and participate in your cultural roots and never forget where your family came from <3
(PS: My mom found my poncho from 1994 and of course I had to take a pic of my little guy in it)
Do you have any memories from your childhood that you think had a great impact on who you are today that you would like to pass down to your children? I'd love to hear from you. Leave a comment below.