COLOMBIA – Puerto Carreño airport is a simple affair, with just a few metres separating the runway from baggage reclaim. Waiting for us when we come through are all of the local Inter Campus children, who greet us with a rendition of the club anthem.
Our first appointment is a meeting with the Regional Secretary for Sport, who explains that football is not the only sport practised in the large centre we’ll be visiting. There is tennis, taekwondo and archery too, with the latter something of a novelty in the area.
The synthetic pitch, which is located behind a large building named the Colosseum, is lacking a boundary fence, but two doors have already been put up. Partly out of respect and partly guided by superstition, we all pass through them before starting to play.
Our exercises are designed to foster technical and cognitive development in a fun setting, which keeps the young Colombian kids on their toes. Before we begin our game, we use the classic game of Rock, Paper, Scissors to decide which team kicks first – some things, it seems, are universal.
The whole community came out for our visit, taking us to visit local institutions and inviting us into family homes. On top of that, the kids organised a super surprise for us in the shape of dinner with typical dancing and music. It was a great opportunity for us to explain more about the Inter Campus project and chat to parents about their children’s development.
Before our departure, the police force invited us to take part in one of their national radio broadcasts. Together, we explained how football can be an important force for social good and how being able to play is a right all children are entitled to. In the words of our local coordinator Ricardo Martinez, the rights of children are nothing but the duties of adults.