HAVANA – In our first visit to Cuba since Fidel Castro’s passing, the city appears as rundown and as fascinating as always. Yet every time we return, we notice social changes as the country evolves: fewer old cars, a few more cash dispenser dotted around and lots of flights coming in from the USA.
We begin our work at the Estadio Pedro Marrero on Monday morning, where we’re welcomed by coaches and representatives of the local Asociación de Futbol. In the room we find Raul, Hugo and Joel, our local coaches, Castro, who came in specially from Holguin on behalf of the Eastern provinces, and Alexei, our general coordinator. These five men are the backbone of our operation bringing sport and social aid to children in Cuba. Other coaches interested in our methods join us in the room and we’re delighted to share ideas with them.
Inter Campus’ aim here is to restore the fun and educational side to football in a country where all too often it seems winning is the only thing that matters. Success is not just desired; it’s also a yardstick by which every educator is measured. In an extremely egalitarian society, obtaining results is a way to stand out from the crowd.
Of course no one likes losing but we believe there are many other ways to win besides with the final score. A shy child who grows in confidence thanks to his football training or another kid who improves his motor skills by practising with a ball are far greater achievements than any goal scored at the weekend. And these are the values we try to convey both in the classroom and on the pitch, at our three centres in Plaza de la Revolucion, Playa and Boyeros.
Our days our busy and intense but full of smiles and enthusiasm in every session. And if they kids are enjoying themselves, we’ve already won.