My story of how I found Homefans is a lot like the story of how founder Luke Verbeek put the idea to life. Countless times, whether football in Japan, basketball in Slovenia, or baseball in Puerto Rico, I went to the match alone.
It never stopped me from experiencing the local culture through sports, but it was missing the social aspect, a passion that is felt throughout the platform of Homefans; meeting hosts from all over the world, learning about their teams and what they mean to them, and then of course, cheering them on together for a win. That’s why Homefans is a no-brainer if a match presents itself while I am on the road.
Seeing Boca Juniors at La Bombonera
My recent trip to Argentina presented my third and fourth experiences with Homefans. A trip to La Bombonera was up first, probably the consensus chart-topper on a global football fan’s
bucket list. I was the day’s only guest, and host Ignacio and I met up pregame for drinks and chouripan, the delicious sausage sandwich of Argentina.
After smashing that, we entered La Bombonera to all the songs, passion, and fanfare you could have imagined, and it never stopped during Boca’s 1-0 win over Tigre, a welcome three points on what has been a disappointing season for the Xeneize.
Next up was Huracán, a club, I must admit, I’d never heard of before planning the trip. I’m not an avid follower of the Argentina Primera División, so outside of its top clubs I am pretty useless. Yet, it turned out to be arguably a more authentic experience than La Bombonera.
CA Huracán with Sofia
Next up was Huracán, a club, I must admit, I’d never heard of before planning the trip. I’m not an avid follower of the Argentina Primera División, so outside of its top clubs I am pretty useless. Yet, it turned out to be arguably a more authentic experience than La Bombonera (please don’t take offense to this Boca supporters), thanks to the fact I felt as though I was the only foreigner at the ground, truly amongst the most devout fans of a smaller, less historic (in terms of trophies) club.
But, as always with Homefans, the experience begins before the match. I met host Sofia nearby the club’s ground for a pregame drink and a bit of Huracán background, yet it only took a few minutes before my highlight of the trip came.
If you join Sofia for a match, she encourages guests to bring a sticker from their favorite club “for an extra beer” during the pregame meetup
If you join Sofia for a match, she encourages guests to bring a sticker from their favorite club “for an extra beer” during the pregame meetup. Through this I was excited to share one of my joys with her, for my favorite club is more intertwined with the culture of the city it represents than any other I can think of. Earlier in 2023 I left Napoli after four great years living there.
Despite my support for teams across all sports from where I grew up outside Boston, Napoli, I feel, is my true home, and my devotion to SSC Napoli is amongst the major reasons why the city will forever mean so much to me. And obviously, and if you’ve been to Napoli you can attest, the city shares an icon with that of the nation of Argentina: Diego.
Diego Maradona’s legacy in Argentina
With this I was excited to share my surprise with a brief bit of suspenseful backstory. Then I handed over the sticker. It was in the form of a Diego Armando Maradona trading card from the mid-to-late 1980’s SSC Napoli. A straight-on head shot from the sponsor up of the trademark azzurri jersey, “N” stitched on its right side, a steady mop of wavy hair atop the head of one of the game’s greatest ever players. Sofia became excited at the sight of it and I was smiling from her genuine emotions.
While Diego had no direct connection to the club of Huracán, at least none I learned of, he continues to hold such a status in the nation. It is just a sticker, but it’s still amazing to me how decades after his playing days and years after his death, a player like Maradona continues to connect and unite us football fans, people such as Sofia and I.
It was a special moment to me seeing Sofia enjoy Diego in sticker form, but it wasn’t just her. When we got to the match we sat (rather, stood) with her group of Huracán friends, and she shared her new possession with them. I’m not lying when I say people’s eyes lit up with it in their hands, flabbergasted emotions mixed with what I have to believe a tad bit of envy. Her friends took pictures of the Diego sticker with Huracán’s pitch and crest in the background, then politely passed it along. Fortunately for everyone involved, I cleaned house of the sticker vendor on Spaccanapoli before I left the city so I have a proper stash back in my current residence in Massachusetts.
With that, I told Sofia I would mail her more to share with her Diego-loving Huracán friends. Except that’s not all. Huracán did lose, there’s that, a rather uninspiring performance during a still worthwhile experience. But to know Sofia’s Diego will have a proper home made the sticker surprise even more meaningful and the loss more tolerable. If you have been to Argentina, you might know mate is officially their national beverage, similar in taste (at least to this foreigner) to that of tea.
All during my trip I’d see Porteños, as the citizens of Buenos Aires are known, carrying their holster of mate (the cup with the herbs), the bombilla straw nestled in, and a thermos filled with hot water. Mate is a massive social aspect of the way of life here, to meet with family or friends and to share a mate. Everyone drinks it, and I was fortunate to join a different porteño on my trip to experience the beverage tradition.
Turns out, these stickers that Homefans guests bring Sofia, they go on her mate thermos. In my mind this is the ultimate destination for Diego and the rest of her guest’s favorite football clubs, a global showing of the impact Homefans can have. I’m excited to see what stickers she’ll add on next!
Written by Dan Charest, who joined several experiences through Homefans around the world.