Appraisal of the Copa America de Futbol Especial: when football take precedence over difference
Between the 25th and the 29th of March, the 2nd edition of the adapted football Copa America took place. Created by the Special football League of the Granja Andar organization, this event is an international tournament of soccer. The principal missions of HandiCap sur le Monde with this Argentinian association were to organize the tournament and support the Argentinian delegation in Santiago de Chile. In this article, we are going to give you all the details related to this competition reducing differences.
All the ingredients of a successful cup
As we explain earlier, the Copa America of football is organized by the association Granja Andar from Argentina for the people with an intellectual disability. Thanks to the first successful edition, organized in the province of Buenos Aires in 2010, the organizers renew their experience in March 2013. This year, the ADAES organization, in Santiago the Chile, agreed to be the host of the tournament. For this edition, four South-American countries participated: Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Peru. Even if the organizers kept the organization of the Argentinian edition, for the first time the game was played with 11 people in each team (before this version of football, it was played only with 5 members). This new organization requires from players good competences in soccer and technical frameworks: find a big field, play in teams, each person knows exactly what to do, offside rules… This precise regulation was the one used during the first edition.
The main goal of the Copa is to permit to several delegations from different countries in South-America to have a meeting in order to develop the practice of football for disabled people, shows that football can be a big element in the social inclusion of those persons and allows them to discover new cultures.
The organization of this event is huge. It is not only a meeting about football; it is also the organization of an event during several days with all the vital factors. Many times, the organization’s members had to go in Chile to check the quality of the sport installations but also to think about the daily organization: transport, housing, food…
Nothing lets place to the hazard. The housing selected by the organizers is an old monastery not far from Santiago. This infrastructure can have as guests the 60 players, the 20 educators and the fifty volunteers in the best conditions. It also facilitates the organization of the transports and the storage of all the material because everything was done at the same place. It was a great site to let place to the exchange of culture. The organizers decided to use a different stadium every day, all the time next to the capital, in order to be known by the local councils and to diverse the game’s rules: the football center of the U professional team (University of Santiago), the Quinta Normal stadium, El Quisco stadium and the Palestino stadium. Each delegation had a bus to facilitate the moving from the monastery to the football center or stadium for the Copa. HandiCap sur le Monde helped a lot to organize this tournament, especially with the Argentinian association Granjar Andar. Our principal contact is Martin, the responsible of communication, to help him to relegate all the information relative to the Copa in national and local Medias. Our main goal is to share our knowledge in sportive manifestations to be sure to forget nothing. The last meeting is dedicated to the volunteers before the arrival in Chile for the Copa; we can’t take any risk. Each person has his role and has to be stuck to it: some are responsible for the materials, others take care of the team, others accrediting teams and journalists invited or ensure the smooth conduct of the games by annotating every events during the games (goals, substitutions, problems encountered …).
First day: opening of the Copa, time of the first shivers
Every team arrived yesterday in the beautiful monastery. The first hours were dedicated to the integration and the presentation of each delegation. We saw beautiful human exchanges. On Monday, even if they are a little bit stressed, players and organizers are ready for the grand opening of the Copa’s second edition. Each responsible of social organization, local authorities and journalists are present. After speeches, all the teams take place on the U’s field for the opening parade. The Santiago of Chile military fanfare is playing all the national songs while each delegation carries proudly its flag. It is time to play now! The first game is opposing the host delegation, Chile, and the favorite of this edition, Argentina. Sponsored by the Adidas foundation and wearing a part of the equipment used by Messi and his partners, the Argentinian team is splendid! The captain, Pancho, is also named “El Grand Riquelme” in reference of the Argentinian champion of the Albicéleste selection. Nevertheless, the Adidas equipment was not enough and the Chilean team wins thanks to its collective actions. Final result: 1-1.
It is time for two other teams to face: Colombia and Peru. The two teams give us a good show but we can see they are less good than the two favorites. The Colombian team wins with 5 goals against 1. The football passion is in the air; each time a team is marking a goal, coaches are screaming and jumping on the field. The players live, too, fully this experience. Waiting to come into the field, a Colombian substitute on the sidelines celebrates each gole of his selection by tears of joy.
This first day is the testimony of young people from different country to play and exchange together. It is really convivial! Even if the weather is extremely hot and there are some settings to adjust tomorrow, like the insufficient number of bottles of water, this first day was amazing. Everybody is really happy to be here!
Second day: New meetings and an overexcited public
Today, games take place in the Quinta Normal stadium in a quarter of the Chilean capital. After a good night and a breakfast high in vitamins, our champions jump in the bus to face this new day. The program includes a game between the Peruvian team and the tremendous Chilean team before a second game in which Colombians are going to confront Argentinians. The results just comfort the power of the winners of yesterday: Chile – Peru: 6 – 0 and Argentina – Colombia: 7 – 0.
The public is overexcited today, maybe because children from the quarter’s school and their teachers came to follow the games. Children and teachers cheer all the teams without any discrimination: those supports give courage to the players but also to the coaches. National songs and screams come with the best actions in each game. The public is over-active: they start to dance on the reggaeton and the cumbia in the tribune. After the end of their game, the Colombian team joins them. Argentinians just find their first fans: young girls in the public. Cultures are mixing, pupils from local schools alongside youth from different backgrounds specialized organizations.
After a lunch in the monastery, everybody takes the bus again to go to the center of Santiago. The organizers do not want the event to only be a football meeting. Because most of the children presents in the delegations never went out of their own country, this afternoon, they are going to visit the wonderful city of Santiago in order to open their mind to other horizons. Unfortunately, the football national team is playing for the qualifying round of the World Cup in Brazil: each delegation is looking for a way to see it!
Third day: game, beach and discoveries
The weather is a little bit fresher next to the beach this morning in the football Center of El Quisco: the competition is continuing. The Peruvian team shows a good opposition but they will finally lose against the Argentinians 5 – 0. During the second game, Chileans let no chance to the Colombian team. The final score is 8 – 0.
During the lunch in the Center’s installations, we have a good surprise: teams start to get mixed with others. Because we are too many, some are taking their lunch and others are playing a tournament of penalty. When we change the order, the penalty players are eating and it’s a south-American rugby which is improvised!
The afternoon is spent at the beach because most of the young people never saw it before, especially Colombians. Everybody is smiling, taking pictures and some courageous are taking a cold bath in the Pacific Ocean. On the way back, we make a detour by Isla Negra to see Pablo Neruda’s house, the well known Chilean poet. His house overlooks the Ocean in an sublime scenery.
Later during the daily meeting between responsible of each delegation, they choose to realize finales in two divisions. It is for making up for the level difference between the four teams. In conclusion, each team will participate to one final: one for the first place – the winner of the Copa America de Futbol Especial 2013 – and a second one for the rest of the ranking. It promises to be a day high in colors!
Last day with the big finals: Integration games and finals
This day is the conclusion of a week of fun and share. The morning is dedicated to a friendly tournament. For the occasion, integration games are organized. Each team is constituted by three volunteer players who represent each delegation. Even if this morning is convivial, everybody keep in mind the Copa’s big finals!
Games are tenacious and each team wants to win! During the final to define the 3rd and 4th places, the Colombian team shows some skills which permit it to win 2 – 1 against the Peruvians. Like a professional game, the big final between Argentinians and Chileans cannot find a winner. At the end of the time, the two teams are ex aequo: three goals each. In consequences, the Argentinian players and Chileans have to go to the penalty. All the public, coaches, journalists and persons presents in the stadium are holding their breath because of this cruel trial. Thanks to its goalkeeper, the trophy is going to the Chilean team!
Like in an international event, a closing ceremony is concluding this second edition. Speeches thank all the organization, the volunteers but also the players who were very great during this second edition! They give us an appointment in Peru in two years. We give them their trophies and everybody demonstrate their happiness during a lap of honor. A cocktail is also organized to finish with a friendship drink. Saying goodbye is difficult after all the friendships tied during those few days.
A really positive appraisal before the next edition in Peru
This edition of the adapted football Copa America is for HandiCap sur le Monde a good event and a terrific show. Of course, we will remember the Chilean victory and the good performances of each team. But the appraisal is somewhere else. The football is just an excuse for young adult with intellectual deficiencies to have the possibility to meet exchange and have fun during an event like young people of their age. It is also the occasion to open their mind and to learn about other cultures… around a common passion: football. This tournament really gives us a lot of fun and joy. Maybe we can organize a competition like that in France? Project to follow?
Inclusive football and qualified jobs: the work with Granja Andar
HandiCap sur le Monde is going to work during the two next months with the Granja Andar Organization in Moreno, next to Buenos Aires. With the similar aims and philosophy about the inclusion by sport, the work which is going to done there promises to be fascinating!
Granja Andar was created twenty years ago in the city of Moreno by Raul Lucero, physical education teacher. This social organization has, as objectives, the development of opportunities to help people with an intellectual deficiency. Those opportunities are created through the employment and the sport but also through culture, art and health, in order to increase the life quality of those persons. In the point of view of the leading, everything is about learning; we should concentrate on the capacity of a disabled person instead of his condition.
On the first hand, Granja Andar has created a bakery and a service in restoration which is employing exclusively people in situation of mental deficiency. All the employees are trained by the association. These two organizations are the proof that people with a mental deficiency can work in the area of the alimentation. Thanks to its good quality and its respect of the rules of hygiene established by the country, Granja Andar is now delivering 28 000 meals everyday (breakfast, lunch and afternoon snack) in almost 85 schools in Moreno.
On the other hand, Granja Andar founded in 1998 La Liga de Futbol Especial, a football league for people with or without mental disability which lets them play in hobby but also in competition. The association wants to show that the football can be a factor of social inclusion thanks to its great renowned in Argentina. Like a classic tournament, the Liga is doing a competition all year for teams with different levels. Even if at the beginning the Liga was exclusively in Moreno, it is now present in different Argentinians cities but also in Chile, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Colombia. The Liga is today one of the most important movement in Argentina for people in situation of disability. The league has also the opportunity to be supported by the Adidas Foundation in Argentina, which gives a lot of sportive equipment.
HandiCap sur le Monde with the team of Granja Andar and the Adidas Foundation
A groundbreaking philosophy about handicap
The work at Granja Andar is always in movements because of the changes in society. They try to find new – creative – ways to give competences to people with mental deficiencies. Each month, they are looking for new actions, projects and partnerships.
Apart from it daily work at the bakery and the service of restoration, Granja Andar also has a really big particularity in its “day center”: people who take care of persons in situation of high disability are also mentally challenged. The association, thanks to its innovative organization, shows that a mental deficiency is not a brake to work in the area of social help. In fact, it was shown that people with a mental disability who work for the association have a better sensibility and listen more to the others than valid people.
For one year, the Argentinian organization created a TV channel entirely dedicated to disability. It can be seen on the local channel of Moreno or on Internet. Apart from the actualities of the association, the production’s team also realizes television coverage about disability, sport, employment, etc… Of course, people in situation of mental deficiency are working in the team in all kind of jobs: journalists, anchormen, but also in the conception and the realization of the subjects.
Emma and Daniela at Granja Andar during the international woman’s day
HandiCap sur le Monde shares its competences with Granja Andar!
HandiCap sur le Monde did not want to develop new actions for the organism for lack of time but also because Granja Andar had a lot in mind. In consequences, we preferred to share our competences and our savoir-faire to get some projects we thought relevant better:
La Liga de Futbol Especial
We will daily help the Liga during two important events which will happen while we will be present: the American Copa (The South-American Cup) in Chile from March 25th to 29th, 2013, as well as the championship opening 2013 of the Liga the April 20th, 2013. Granja Andar tries to be self-financing on its projects, so we will help them to find long term partnerships.
The employment inside Granja Andar and some extern companies
On the first hand, Granja Andar is employing people with deficiency in its “day center”. We thought it was a really innovating suggestion and we are going to try to get this project better known. On the other hand, people from the association just get employed by a business school of the capital known for its high quality restoration. We will try to put this action in front and give you more details about this project which just start when we will arrive in Moreno.
HandiCap sur le Monde falls for Argentina’s charms
We are now in February 2013 and HandiCap sur le Monde is reaching its last step: South America. The first country, Argentina, has a strong culture and history. Vast country of 2 million km², Argentinian landscapes offer impressive glaciers, the pampas, dry deserts and the majestic Cordillera.
But Argentina it is also a feeling of a permanent passion because of its turbulent politic past. The military dictatorship synonyms of the 70s and the 80s and the well-known place of May in Buenos Aires make references to kidnap men (around 30 000). The image of Argentina also goes along with the enflamed tango of Buenos Aires. From the streets of La Boca to the restaurants’ impressive shows of San Telmo during the night, HandiCap sur le Monde will probably tries the Milongas (improvised ball of tango) when we will know the steps.
But what we have the most in our mind about Argentina it is this immeasurable passion for football. Everyone here supports his club… for life! It is usual to have a debate with someone in transports if we do not support the “good” club. Each game from the championship is watched with energy and it is without talking about games with the national team which makes go people in the street in case of victory.
Disability in Argentina: the association meets it in Moreno
HandiCap sur le Monde is staying two months in Moreno, city of 600,000 habitants at almost 50km of the capital city, to help Granja Andar. This city is the reflection of the traditional Argentina: there’s no tourist because of the risks, music all day in the streets, improvising soccer games everywhere, dust and pathways when we go too far from the city center. We are completely disoriented and New-Zealand seems already far away.
In Argentina, when we talk about disability, the mental deficiency is the first one in national rankings. Here, the rate of unemployment for people in situation of disability is about 91% – numbers from 2004. In Moreno, 10% of the 600,000 habitants are in this situation. Even if Moreno counts 22 organizations which help and support those people, there are still a lot to do.
HandiCap sur le Monde will stay two entire months with Granja Andar to discover their innovative activities, but also to develop common projects about cognitive disability through sport and employment.
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