SAN ANDRES DE TUMACO – As the plane was landing, we began to catch glimpses of Nerazzurri shirts from the windows: the kids and coaches from Inter Campus had decided to greet us at the airport with music, local dances and Inter chants.
The welcome was striking and yet further confirmation of the importance of the educational activities – on and off the pitch – which we are able to put on for them with the help of our partners.
As we travelled to the hotel, it became apparent that this region – where every home is supported by wooden stilts – is dependent on the tide and the rain, which at least once a day drenches streets and football pitches.
The next few days were spent at the training ground where passion for the game took centre stage. The session that stands out the most took place the following morning. Our usual pitch had been taken up by a sporting event so we took advantage of the low tide and the huge stretches of sand and moved down to the water’s edge. There was enjoyment a-plenty but also exercises on ball control and defending your position on a different playing surface. Goalkeepers could dive without hurting themselves, strikers could courageously throw themselves into headers and defenders were able to pull off a few more sliding tackles than usual.
There was a practice match to wrap things up at the end, with the players shaking hands and swapping shirts emulating their heroes. Two kids, Juan and Camilo, went even further and exchanged their right football boots before the game in a mark of friendship. Both players had their own pairs restored after the final whistle but the show of talent they displayed will be remembered forever.