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We came for Ronaldinho, but found Tijuana

By Maxi Rodriguez and Zack Goldman

There’s a first time for everything, and this weekend, the AFR team took hopefully the first of many trips South of the Border.

With intentions to track Ronaldinho as he suited up for Querétaro against Tijuana’s Xolos, it was a pilgrimage of sorts; an opportunity to see a legend in the flesh before he hangs up his boots.

But while Ronaldinho was the original focus of our journey, the city of Tijuana and its football club were its biggest stars.

Ask most people north of the border what they think of Tijuana, and you’ll be overwhelmed with less-than-informed talk of Mexico’s socio-political landscape, second-hand stories of the city’s dark underbelly, and warnings over the range of narco-inspired violence just miles from the U.S.

While these topics are worthy of a responsibly contextualized conversation, it goes without saying that the first thing any visitor to Tijuana learns is that Tijuana is, in many ways, much like any other city across the world. Sure, it shares many of Mexico’s present-day challenges, but it just as strongly speaks to its promising future — progress that can be seen in the city center and at the stadium.

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