CALI – His ironic expression is the first thing that you are greeted with when the doors open at the airport and he’s been welcoming us with a smile since 1999. That’s how our visit to Cali begins, in a mini-bus with Italian music beating. Ricardo Martinez has been the technical co-ordinator who greets us in Colombia from day one, working with great passion and dedication.
“Our aim, is to keep the kids busy inside sporting, healthy and recreational spaces to keep them away from difficult social issues for a few hours,” he said. “In particular, for the kids who have limited resources or those who come from marginalised groups, the support from the educator and community is even more important.”
It’s become a sort of ritual to visit all the Inter Campus locations straight after getting off the plane. Ricardo wants to share his experiences from what he’s seen in Cali and across the country, before also discussing other Inter Campus projects across South America in Cuba, Venezuela, Mexico, Nicaragua and Bolivia.
“Another objective is to offer the local coaches with educational support in regard to the training on the match. That way, along with the support of the whole community, it is possible to help the children develop their motor, technical and co-ordination skills through play.”
His university background is on show, as he works every day at the National School for Sport for Colombian managers and sportspeople. Here, the coaches of the future learn their trade and it’s a subject close to his heart, just like Inter Campus.
“It’s very important to know the abilities of the children involved in the programme, that means being aware of their physical, mental and social circumstances. Starting from there, a suitable methodology can be formed with progressive and systematic teaching methods that also aid their improvement on the pitch.”
To hear him speak about such important topics is naturally contagious and you start to forget that we’re squeezed into a mini-bus that’s full of luggage after a long journey. That said, we’re sure that the ironic expression is still on his face even if we can’t see it.