Browse all

Mate: history, origins and diffusion among the football players

Why this drink similar to tea and coffee has become a must for South American players (and not only)

Mate: history, origins and diffusion among the football players  Why this drink similar to tea and coffee has become a must for South American players (and not only)

By zapping between the Instagram footballers stories there are several constants: at the moment, for example, many of them are in beautiful places by the sea, accomplices in the summer holidays. In winter it is the turn of restaurants and sushi bars with teammates; and again: small family moments, funny frames from the just concluded training, stories-launch for the next game, with lots of "we are loads" and various emoticons.

Furthermore, passing from one image to another, it happens to come across a drink. You don't notice the first time. You think: boh, who knows what will be, of strange foods if you see so many. Also the second time he slips away ("is this the same glass as last time?"), and on the third occasion you can't do anything but googling "what is that stuff all the players drink". Answer: mate.


What is mate and how is it prepared?

The mate is essentially an infusion, and like any self-respecting infusion it is born of a fusion. To go back to the origins of the mate we have to go back to the 16th century, when the Spanish conquistadores arrived in South America. The Indians used to use the yerba mate (plant from which the drink is made) with cold water, the Spanish soldiers decided instead to use hot water in an attempt to emulate tea.

Thus the mate began to spread, and today remains one of the most popular beverages of the nations of South America (Uruguay above all, but also in Argentina if they drink a lot).

Ok, but even if an Italian wants to consume mate, how can he do it? Nothing is impossible: the yerba mate can be found on the market (in herbal shops, for example) and the preparation of the infusion is not difficult. Needed:

- Yerba mate, for the note;

- Pumpkin cup: it is specifically made for this type of drink, but alternatively also wooden, glass or ceramic cups are good;

- Bombilla: you can't replace it with nothing else. It is the straw (the one and only) of metal with which one drinks the mate. Special feature: it is equipped with a filter that prevents the leaves of mate from passing through the straw itself.

- Pan for boiling water.


Procedure, in short:

- Wash the cup by rubbing its inside with salt, then dry it;

- Fill the cup half with dried mate leaves;

- Acrobatic moment: cover the cup with the palm of the hand and turn it, to then shake it in such a way as to make the finer powders rise up again, which in part will also settle on the palm of the hand (all this to avoid drinking);

- Tilt the cup to concentrate the leaves in a single point;

- Put the bombilla in the space without leaves, in the same pour cold water (yes, cold) and let the leaves absorb it (it takes about 2 minutes);

- Do not mix, do not move the bombilla, but pour the hot water (not really boiling) and let it rest for another 2 minutes;

- Drinking.

Extra step: you can "make it spin", then drink your long sip of "to drop" mate and then pass it to your drinking buddy, and so on. The operation can be repeated for 10-20 refills of hot water without the mate losing its taste.

If you also need a practical demonstration, here is a video that explains the preparation of the mate step by step:

At this point, nothing is missing: you can also join the Instagram stories of your favorite Uruguayan player.


Why it is so widespread among soccer players

Among the VIP lovers of the mate we also find Papa Francesco and Obama, but neither the Pope category nor the USA Presidents category will ever reach the level of dissemination of the mate that exists among the football players. To explain the reasons for this appreciation we could also simply leave the floor to Antoine Griezmann, the most Uruguayan French footballer of all, who once said:

"Basically it's like coffee or tea: I drink it before training, in the morning or in the afternoon, it serves to wake me up".

The French striker is not entirely wrong: the properties of the mate are many, and some of these are similar to those of tea or coffee. To understand what they are, we can refer for example to the Targuì's website, producer of mate. Another round, another bulleted list:

- It stimulates the central nervous system, increasing energy levels and brain activity;

- Improves the assimilation of carbohydrates, and consequently increases resistance;

- Reduces muscle fatigue, and in this way prevents the excessive production of lactic acid;

- It contains caffeine, therefore: it increases energy, improves psychomotor functioning, prevents cell deterioration and degeneration;

- It has anti-inflammatory effects (and post-exercise recovery becomes faster);

- It promotes cardiovascular well-being (and therefore improves the physical condition).

Bonus reason: make a good impression on Instagram. By now the mate is almost a fashion, if you don't have a cup of pumpkin and bambilla you are nobody, you stay out of the loop, no garra charrua for you. Seriously: football players really love it. The spread is the work of the South Americans, but now the mate is also popular among other nationalities.


Examples of the footballer-mate relationship

The ratio of mate-players is more or less the same as in this article the bullet points. The players go crazy, entire teams drink it. Even unexpected players, geographically distant from South America, have been conquered by the mate. Some examples of the mate-mania:

- For Griezmann, PUMA has created a special custom pair of mate-themed shoes;

- On the occasion of the World Championships in Russia, Uruguay had 180 kilos of mate carried by a special 17-hour flight;

- In a beautiful article of Il Secolo XXIV of a few years ago, the mate was defined as "the Argentine secret of the Griffin". In Genoa of that season (2014/2015) Kucka and Izzo also drank it, according to the statements of Roncaglia, brand-ambassador of the drink for the occasion;

- Brazil is about 10,000 kilometers from Poland, yet this has not prevented the Polish Piatek from tasting the mate. With the extraordinary participation of the Brazilian Paquetà;

- Well, even Pjanic's Bosnia is quite far from South America;

- It seems that Mauricio Pochettino has attacked the mate-mania to the players of his Tottenham;

- There is also Maradona!

- Pogba said he became a fan of the mate thanks to Rojo;

- According to Le Parisien, in 2012 the Pocho Lavezzi would have introduced the mate to the footballing Paris;

- In all this triumph of South American and social network could Papu Gomez be missing? Of course not;

- If you have not yet understood how to do the mate, you can ask Franco Vazquez for help.


It seems right to close with a series of Instagram posts by players who drink mate: