ASUNCION – Rebirth is one of many themes that Inter Campus looks to address through the game of football. It’s a common topic of discussion in Paraguay, with the project centre in the Cateura landfill. It’s a complex place, with poor hygiene and an awful stench. But the children and people who welcome us there never lose their smiles, perhaps spurred on by those blades of grass that insist on growing amongst the garbage, as well as in the middle of the field where training takes place. Seeds that grow despite, and at times perhaps thanks to, difficulty. Small symbols that can in fact seem big, and ones that we cling to in the hope of a better future.

This was also where we found Julio Gonzalez, who is so much more than an Inter Campus coordinator. He’s an example around which every child takes root. His own story as a man and an athlete is well known in Paraguay, yet no one ever tires of hearing it. “When I was young, I travelled the world in search of the best coaches: I wanted to become a great player, and I went all the way to Italy. Thanks to Inter Campus you’re lucky that you don’t have to leave home, instead the best coaches come directly to you.” The children listen while sat on the grass, and you could hear a pin drop in the silent attention to their coach’s words. “But we’re not just talking about football, boys and girls. We’re talking about education: people who can teach you how to face life, both on and off the pitch, without ever giving up. All so that you can be the citizens of tomorrow. It would have been my dream to have this and I hope that you make the most of it.”

Julio has already done so many great things in all of the social initiatives that he’s worked on over the years. The children follow him fascinated and we’re exactly the same. Even more so in these days where all play has come to a stop, so let’s allow ourselves to be inspired by his words as we wait for our return to the pitch, where we’ll be stronger than ever before.