The Basque Soccer Friendly between Athletic de Bilbao and Xolos of Tijuana has come and gone, leaving the city of Boise and its community filled with wonderful memories that will be treasured for years to come. Much has been said about this match, both in the months leading up to the event, and specially during the three magical days since the teams arrived in Boise on Thursday and Friday. However, nobody can take a story and twist it like Boise native Mark Bieter. In his latest article for the Blue Review, he goes beyond the surface and brings us a closer, more personal approach to the teams, their history and their fans.
Beyond the Friendly, Two Idaho Immigration Stories
It’s a professional soccer game in a college football town played in a U.S. stadium by two non-U.S. teams who have never faced each other and might never face each other again. It was practically an impossible dream. For example, one basic requirement was trucking in 85,000 square feet of Kentucky bluegrass to be placed over plastic decking and two layers of tarp to cover the Boise State field, which is artificial turf colored blue and trademarked so no other university can copy it. When the game is over, all that grass will be rolled up, shipped away and planted in a park.
The original cocktail napkin plan hadn’t anticipated all that. The only idea then was to bring Athletic Bilbao to Boise for a game during Jaialdi, the massive international festival Idaho’s Basque community holds every five years. Athletic is an iconic team, founded in the 1890s in Bilbao, the Basque Country’s largest city. It’s ranked among the top 30 soccer teams in the world. Athletic plays in 53,000-seat San Mamés stadium, which was built in 1913, remodeled a century later, and is now one of the premier soccer venues in Europe. They’ve been champions of La Liga, Spain’s top professional division, eight times, and winners of Spain’s most prestigious cup competition, the Copa del Rey, 23 times, the most of any team besides FC Barcelona
Like it so far? You can read the article in its entirety on the Blue Review website: Beyond the Friendly, Two Idaho Immigration Stories
- The Rise and Fall of ETA, by Mark Bieter
- An Essential Basque History, Written by a Non-Basque, by Mark Bieter
- My favorite room, by Mark Bieter (also in Spanish)
- The Spanish version of “An Enduring Legacy: The Story of Basques in Idaho” is available for download as PDF
- Boise’s fronton centennial event: What’s your story?
- Boise’s Anduiza Fronton: Approaching 100 years of pilota history
- El frontón de Boise, en puertas de su centenario
- Cien años contra la pared
- Last minute update: Watch the Basque Soccer Friendly live or On Demand!
- Agirre Center, Columbia University and Gure esku dago organize in Boise a conference on the right to choose