2017 is a big year for Panama: a year of firsts and a year that proves that hard work pays off. Not only is Panama hosting the 25th anniversary of the largest and oldest MUN conference in Central America, but it is also the first year in which its soccer team qualifies for the FIFA World Cup.
Panama will be travelling to Russia in 2018 to compete in perhaps the biggest, most renowned soccer tournament in the world. For many years, this has been a dream in the Panamanian community.
There were many years in the past where Panama had gotten really close to passing, yet they were never successful. For example, for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers, Panama was extremely close to making it in. They were winning 2-1 against the United States for 92 minutes of the game, qualifying them for playoffs. However, the tables quickly turned when the United States scored 2 goals in 2 minutes, completely snatching Panama’s dream out of its hands.
This year, however, Panama was able to take the United States’ place in the upcoming World Cup after its big 2-1 win against Costa Rica and the United States’ tragic 2-1 loss against Trinidad and Tobago.
The game was a very tight one, with Costa Rica scoring the first goal in the first half of the game. However, Panama was able to make a comeback during the second half, with Blas Perez scoring a goal during the first few minutes. With the game tied and Panama’s dream at the players’ reach, stress and desperation was in the atmosphere. Tension filled the atmosphere as the last few minutes came around and no goal had been scored.
With only three minutes remaining, Román Torres made every Panamanian’s dream come true, making him a national hero. The game was 2-1, Panama had its position in the World Cup, and the crowds were roaring louder than ever. People were jumping into the field, disturbing the game and ensuring that the dream wasn’t snatched from their hands in the remaining minutes.
Celebration in Panama had never been as big as it was on that night after the big win. The streets were filled with joyous Panamanians dancing, singing, and making noise. The team was driving around the city on top of a fire truck. The happiness and celebration was so big that Panama was given a holiday the following day to celebrate the victory. It was a good day for the Panamanian community and proof that this year is filled with tons of big achievements.