Gaspar Mena waited 90 years to learn to fly. At his age he knew everything, he had done almost everything: the responsible son of his house in La Unión, in Piura, he was an amateur soccer player, a union leader, he married Esperanza, had 10 children and one day in 1953 he won the biggest prize. of the lottery. That year, an enthusiastic fan of Lolo Fernández, he read in a newspaper that the football boots with which he played his last game – the classic with Alianza – would be raffled, he bought three tickets and was blessed. He had never won anything before. 64 years later, with the only strength he has left, he agreed to travel to Lima to show the Universitario fans those boots, the same day that Lolo would have turned 104 years old. It was Saturday May 20, 2017 in Hualcará, the land where Lolo was born. It was an organized tribute to the idol of the U, but of course, also to him: almost 3,000 fans traveled by bus, car, caravan. Almost twice as many as those who live in Hualcará, according to INEI data. I went with my father and my brothers, overwhelmed by the event. The tribute bore a mystical name that made Don Gaspar smile the day he appeared at the airport’s National Departures gate: La Ruta de Lolo. Someday I will be able to tell about the extravagant adventure those days were, the conversations in Miraflores, the coordination with Piura and Cañete, the men who were behind the dream minute by minute, spending everything they had and how, for more than a month, they did not We washed the car where those chimpunes were transported, the most expensive jewel of this royalty that is also a Sports University.
When they called him, he didn’t even hesitate. It was possibly the great adventure of his life.
–Get my best suit ready, Gaspita, he told his son, before boarding flight LA2309 in Piura.
He put the chimpunes in a flannel bag, folded his handkerchiefs, put them in the suitcase and that’s it. Hand in hand with his wife, he sat on an airplane for the first time to learn to fly. In Lima – he still did not know – the organizers of La Ruta de Lolo were waiting for him to name him Protector of the Memory of his idol. A noble title for the footballer that sums up his past and his future: 23 consecutive years playing for the same shirt. They are the things that football produces, inexplicable and honest.
With that elegance and with his greatest treasure, Don Gaspar traveled. At 90 years old. And so time has passed. This morning a brief WhatsApp chat made me feel sad: Don Gaspar Mena, the man with blue eyes and a slow walk whom we hugged carefully not to break him, has left. In his journey, the protector of the boots of the highest reference of the Sports University leaves a great lesson: what one wants should never be let go. Not for all the money in the world. Not even if he wants to rip it off with the strength he no longer has. At least once we should do that. And so, we all go to heaven.
I have worked in the news industry for over 10 years. I have a keen interest in sports and have written for many different publications. I am currently working as an author at 24 News Recorder. I cover mostly sports news but also write about other topics such as current affairs and politics. I have a strong interest in social media and how it can be used to engage with audiences.