In the early 1980s, I had been playing soccer for nearly a decade. I was a licensed USSF coach and had escorted a club team to Germany the year before. I also coached youth teams and played in a Sunday men's league. Our "over-thirty" club had even toured England and Scotland (with our wives) a few years earlier. We played other club teams there. You might say I was a die-hard soccer fan, whose life revolved around the "beautiful game" (as Pele had called it).
One day a couple of new guys showed up at one of our Sunday games and asked if they could play. We invited them to join us. It quickly became evident they were both really skilled players. The next week those two fellows and two more of the their friends showed up. The week after, still more newcomers came to play. Within a month, the two new guys and all their buddies had hijacked our club and taken over.
By then, I had developed an intense dislike for the newcomers. They were--let's just call them foreigners--so I reckon that makes me a xenophobe. Anyhow, I had had about all I could take of the newcomers, who no longer even bothered to communicate in English, so I took some time off and headed to Scottsdale, Arizona to go camping, horseback riding, and see a great rodeo.
In the 1970s, I had been in Scottsdale on business and discovered "Parada del Sol," a week-long festival that included the world’s largest horse drawn parade (on Scottsdale Road), five PRCA sanctioned rodeo performances, and the rodeo dance and concert.
Old Town Scottsdale--with its Old West theme--is also a wonderful place to go shopping. It's loaded with Western wear shops, art galleries, rare books stores, antique shops, and has a great museum to boot. It became my habit (30 years ago) to go camping in the desert, then rent a horse to ride on the outskirts of Scottsdale, and finally I'd arrive in town to watch the parade and then attend the rodeo and concert.
So, I guess I owe those "foreigners" a debt of gratitude for steering me back to my American roots, which started my collecting and trading Old West antiques--bits, spurs, saddles, and other cowboy trappings. Playing soccer was kaput, but thanks to Prada del Sol, I moved on to a new adventure--playing cowboy.