Argentina’s national soccer team is known for its passion and aggressive playing style. But it may be the affection for mate Argentina— a bitter, herbal drink made from dried leaves of the Yerba mate— that gives players an edge on the field.
Why do Argentines love mate so much?
Mate provides many health benefits – it’s packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals like vitamin C, iron, and magnesium. It also contains stimulants called xanthine, which help keep you alert and improve your mood.
The antioxidant properties of mate may help protect players against injury. Additionally, the caffeine content can improve alertness and reduce fatigue levels. Vitamins B1, B2, C, magnesium, potassium, and zinc – abundant in yerba mate – are essential for healthy muscles and tissues. These nutrients can also help boost strength and speed on the field.
Argentines believe that these properties make maté a healthy way to start the day or to recharge during long work hours.
How Argentines Bring Tradition to Qatar for the FIFA World Cup?
Mate reached international fame when Lionel Messi brought his supply to Qatar for the World Cup. Argentina’s World Cup team brought 1,100 pounds of the stuff to Qatar in preparation for the tournament.
He was seen sipping on mate throughout Argentina’s matches, likely using its stimulating properties to help power through 90 minutes of intense competition. And it has worked; Argentina currently stands second in their group stage behind only France, having won four out of six games played thus far.
What is mate?
Mate (pronounced mah-tay) is a traditional South American drink made from dried leaves of the yerba mate plant. The glass is served hot or cold or even soft drinks and enjoyed by millions of people throughout Latin America.
The national soccer team has been known to drink mate before matches to give them energy and help them focus. And it seems to be working – Argentina just became one step closer to winning the FIFA World Cup!
One of the secrets to their success could be how they hydrate themselves.
The New York Times reports that the Argentine squad loves drinking mate, a caffeinated drink made with hot water and yerba mate herb, so much that they brought 1,100 pounds of it to the Middle East.
Mate Argentina refers to the Argentine variety of Ilex paraguariensis, regarded as the best quality mate. Mate is not only energizing but also hydrating, which helps players stay focused and perform at their best for long periods.
And because it is served hot, it can help offset some heat and humidity during games played in tropical climates like Brazil or Qatar.
Not all countries have embraced mate as enthusiastically as Argentina has – Uruguayans are thought to be its biggest fans – but more and more people worldwide seem to be discovering its benefits.
The Brazilian team brought 26 pounds, whereas the Uruguayan team hauled 530 pounds to Qatar 2022. However, Argentina did not want to be outdone, so they brought along more than twice as much as Uruguay.
According to the New York Times, “nearly everyone” on the Argentine team consumes it, including Messi. They imbibed it on the team bus and after games, and it’s like a rite of passage or something.
Driussi told The Times, ‘It’s like water for us.’ Every player and coach drinks it routinely in the locker room before each game.
Us in Argentina, we say that mate makes friendship.”
Alexis MacAllister, a midfielder for Argentina currently on the World Cup roster but has yet to play, said about mate, “I drink it more than anything to bring us together.”
Nutritionists in Argentina say it “hydrates you,” according to 26-year-old Argentine attacker Sebastian Driussi, who played youth national team soccer and now plays club-level soccer for Austin FC in the MLS.
Messi has won almost everything but the World Cup, so if Argentina wins the championship on Sunday against France or Morocco, it will be a long-awaited victory for the player.
Messi would enjoy the sweet taste of victory, even if it turns out to be bitter.