Torres Vedras: Time Traveling

By Luís Cristóvão

Editor's Note: We all have that first memory: A moment, a match, a goal that first sparked our love of the game. Whether it was five-a-side in the park with childhood friends, or a World Cup match through grainy television waves, it's a moment we can live through again and again like it happened yesterday. It's a reminder of why we love the game, how far that love has come, and how dearly we hold football in our heart of hearts.

For Luís Cristóvão, football planted its flag in his soul at the tiny Manuel Marques Stadium, the home of Sport Clube União Torreense. While on the terraces as a child, he learned about the sport — and on a recent trip back to the stadium, he learned a bit about himself.

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Here is where I learned how to dream, some 30 years ago.

The same stands, the same view of the castle, near the railway line and the town’s small creek. There was no hospital right beside it, only trees and some old warehouses. No lawn back then, either — just a dirt field.

The players did not seem like young boys, but full-grown men, fighting for every ball as if their life depended on it.

Today, I return here as a traveler in time. I feel the sun of early spring, the smell of the grass, and the wind's cool breeze. I hear the voices that echo from the stands, all the coaches’ instructions, and the feedback from players on the field. Some faces remain the same as three decades ago — all a little older, but with similar smiles. Just like me.

I do not know what the future holds for this football stadium in Torres Vedras. The First Division may never visit here again. Benfica, FC Porto and Sporting, with all their superstars, will likely never step on this turf. It's quite possible the madness of a packed stadium for a Portuguese Cup quarter-final will never be felt by future generations.

But one thing is certain: There are still those who learn to dream by watching a football game here, as there were 30 years ago when I was a boy. There is no doubt about that.

 


Have a tale of where you first learned to love the game? Drop us a line via email at here@whereisfootball.com or reach out on Twitter or Instagram.

Words and photos by Luís Cristóvão. You can follow him and his football adventures on Twitter.