CALI – Our arrival is greeted by a sheet of cloud which fills the sky above Bogota. From the capital – which stands at 2,640 metres above sea level – we descend towards Cali in the Valle del Cauca, where the mountains shelter a city of nearly three million inhabitants.
Our visit to Colombia starts at the administrative headquarters of Deportivo Cali, where Juri and Roberto give a lecture to rows of attentive local trainers who form part of the Inter Campus project. It brings us great pleasure to feel their affection, as well as that of general coordinator Ricardo Martinez and Herney Hoyos, president of the Crecer Jugando Foundation, an Inter Campus partner organisation.
Over the course of our stay in Cali, we visit four different centres, all of which are located near to the city centre: Rozo, Fortaleza, San Antonio and Villarica, where the dense green of the countryside begins to dominate the landscape. In every community, we are greeted by hoards of boys and girls dressed in the Nerazzzurri colours, all of them happy to meet us and eager to play football. On the sidelines, the parents watch the training sessions intently.
As always, however, it’s not all about football. The children’s attitudes and education are given maximum importance by the centres. Edgar, for example, is tasked with assisting children on and off the field at the Rozo centre, in the district of Acequia. He proudly gives us a tour of the classroom where he gives lessons every morning and shows us the mathematics exercises in his students’ textbooks. He explains how each and every one of them has improved over time, crediting sporting discipline as part of the solution. Indeed, just a few metres separate classroom and football pitch.
Alongside the football training and academic development provided to the children, the centres also train local instructors. They are taught how to structure training sessions according to the latest motor and psychological recommendations. Thanks to the constant effort of responsible, generous people to keep practices up to date, the professional career of the local trainers is often greatly benefitted from these courses.
It all serves as further confirmation that Inter Campus gives a tangible boost to the social and personal development of young people and adults in impoverished areas.