‘Electric’ – Hood River native experiences World Cup

After the results of this week’s semifinal round, the final match of the 2014 World Cup will be a battle between the European powerhouse Germany, and Argentina, led by global superstar Lionel Messi.

The game will air at noon Sunday on ABC. While one of the largest captive audiences in television history has tuned in to watch the 2014 World Cup, only a tiny sliver of the world’s luckiest futbol fans actually made the trip to Brazil to witness the field of 32 teams refine itself down to the best of the world’s best.

Among those fans was Hood River native Trista Tamura, who traveled to Brazil with her husband, Greg Guenther, and a group of friends.

The two, both University of Oregon alumni and seasoned veterans of attending large sporting contests, had a college friend from Brazil who helped facilitate an experience Tamura says was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“Our friend goes back to Brazil three or four times a year and has been inviting us to come stay with him for quite a while,” Tamura said this week from her home in Arizona. “With the world cup happening this year, and the incentive that we could stay with him and his family for part of the trip, we decided to go for it. We knew we would be paying quite a bit for the experience, but we knew it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that we didn’t want to miss out on. And in the end, all the stories we have from the trip are irreplaceable.”

The two attended two matches — Korea Republic vs. Algeria (Algeria won 4-2) and Australia vs. Netherlands (Netherlands won 3-2).

“When we bought our (air) tickets, we honestly didn’t know if we were going to be able to go to a World Cup match or not,” Tamura said. “Fortunately for us, StubHub had some tickets, so about a month and a half before our trip we got tickets for South Korea versus Algeria.”

From Brazil, their friend was also able to secure the group tickets to a second match — Australia vs. Netherlands.

Tamura said ticket prices were $220 each through StubHub (an online site where fans buy and sell sporting, music and event tickets) and about $175 each through their friend. As an avid Ducks fan, Tamura is no stranger to the big stadium experience, but she said the World Cup matches were unlike anything she’s ever experienced.

“It was pretty electric,” she said. “One really cool difference was that people were there from all over the world. It was really interesting to talk to the people in the stands around us, to find out where they were from, why they were there and who they were going for. Of the two games, I would say the Algeria game was the most intense; there were so many Algerian fans there, and they are pretty intense soccer fans.”

Tamura gave a special thanks to two Algerina fans who stole her and Greg’s seats partway through the game.

“FIFA handled it really well,” she explained. “They didn’t want anything to escalate, so they gave us different seats, which came with access to the VIP area, which included unlimited food and drinks. So, a shout out to the Algerians who wouldn’t give us our seats back.”

Despite the incident, and the negative publicity leading up to the World Cup, Tamura said,

“In all honesty, there wasn’t any moment in the stadium when I felt at risk or unsafe about anything. I was worried beforehand and we had a lot of people tell us to be careful and to take precautions like wearing neutral colors to the games and not wearing stuff that had English words, but when we were there I felt very safe; the security was pretty high, which helped put me at ease.”

Tamura said they looked into getting tickets to other games once they were down there, but prices were in the thousands of dollars each, so they took the rest of the time to tour some of the country with their friends, which, she said, was a wild and unforgettable experience. Tamura is a 1999 Hood River Valley High School graduate; she currently lives in Tucson, Ariz., with Greg and works as an integration specialist for a program called Opening Minds through Arts, which utilizes visual arts to teach young students math and science.

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