This cross-border volleyball game has endured for nearly 40 years – and counting!
Editor’s Note: Samuel Warde is the editor-in-chief of Liberals Unite (recently re-branded as The Art of Living) as well as a contributor to Mindy Fischer, Writer. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own. You can view a list of his articles here.
Trump kicked off his presidential campaign offering the following harsh words regarding Mexico: “They are not our friend, believe me,” he said, before disparaging Mexican immigrants: “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
Fast forwarding to today, Democrats have retaken control of the House of Representatives vowing to offer legislation to end the Trump shutdown over his unrealistic demand for $5 billion in funding for his beloved wall along the U.S. – Mexico border.
Now is a good time remember that although Trump and his spineless minions in the GOP are hellbent to continue pushing for that symbol of hatred – locals have a much different take on things – have for nearly 40 years, and counting.
Locals Use The US-Mexico Border Fence As A Giant Volleyball Net
Quartz reported shortly after Trump announced his campaign that: “The frontier between the United States and Mexico is the busiest land border in the world. It is also among one of the world’s most heavily regulated and policed border zones—the arid climate of which is responsible for many migrant deaths each year.”
However, as Remezcla reported while many politicians – such as Donald Trump – “continue to insist on the need to build a bigger wall… a group of Mexican and U.S. citizens have something else in mind: a net.”
Every year since 1979, the residents of Naco, Arizona join residents of Naco, Mexico for a volleyball match, called “Fiesta Bi-Nacional”, using the fence that separates the U.S. and Mexico as a net, adding that “their game is a call to rethink the political line that divides the two countries.”
With an approximate 350 million crossings annually, the U.S.-Mexico border is the most legally-crossed border in the world, and also one of the busiest gateways for illegal migration. Now add the violence and rampant corruption in Mexico, and the border becomes an easy scapegoat for U.S. politicians looking to score points with voters, many whom have never been to Mexico or even a border state.
The cross-border walleyball game – a party, which also features picnic tables and food stands set up along the fence – puts a human face on the often empty and vague speeches politicians utter.
The former mayor of the Mexican side of Naco, Jose Lorenzo Villegas, discussed the wallyball game with Reuters a few years ago, explaining that “For us, it represents the celebration of the union of two countries… What’s unusual is that both the Mexican and U.S. teams are playing at home, with the fence as the net.”
Reporting on the annual match, Fusion added that “The game, which has become an annual April tradition… is the newest way border town residents are celebrating bi-national ties and defying political boundaries by using the fence as a playground for creatively subversive sports.”
For instance, “In January 2010, a collective of artists and activists held a soccer match that took place at the Mexicali-Calexico border fence with the teams dressed in jerseys depicting the faces of U.S. and Mexican presidents,” Fusion reported, adding that “Along the Tijuana-San Diego fence, US and Mexican musicians perform the annual ‘Fandango Fronterizo,’ which is a sort of contagious singing and dancing showdown between the local border communities.”
Quartz concluded their article, reporting that:
The border between the US and Mexico is often shadowed by prejudice and morbid media coverage. But “wallyball” is a testament to the great, untapped potential of cooperation on both sides of the fence. Both teams may be playing on their respective “home turf,” but the game is clearly less about where you’re from, and more about than the fun to be had when differences are set aside.