Goal-scoring Chileans in Italy
On October 16, eight of the 44,000 fans that crowded the San Siro stadium in Milan, Italy, had actually crossed the ocean to watch the match from around the pitch. They are young players of the Independencia team that won the Copa Chilectra in 2016.
You cannot miss them, because not only are they wearing red and blue tracksuits marked “Chile” on the back, but they also have an exceptional companion: Ívan Zamorano, a star player for Inter and Real Madrid, and a legend in Chilean football.
The eight youngsters from Santiago de Chile visited San Siro as part of the prize they were awarded for having won the championship organised by Chilectra – Enel’s Chilean subsidiary–, UNICEF, the Zamorano Foundation and Senda y Carabineros de Chile.
15 years of sports and education
Copa Chilectra’s story began in 1994 with the intuition that it was possible to recover public spaces within the barrios of Santiago in order to provide young people with nicer and safer places to play in.
It was a short step from lighting football pitches in the city’s working-class neighbourhoods to organising the first championship.
Once the project to develop the canchas de fútbol was completed, after nearly eight years, all that was needed was to network the communities, involving them in asocial inclusion event organised first and foremost to educate young people in the values of sports and keep them away from the scourge of drugs.
Training ground for life and hotbed of talents
When the first championship kicked off in August 2002, we could not possibly imagine what the Copa would become over the years.
Today, 32 teams take part in the event, which has a powerful social and educational impact and enjoys wide popularity, as shown by its prominence in the media. In particular, it continues to spread enthusiasm among young people in Santiago, encouraging a number of them to undertake a career in athletics.
"So far, almost 60,000 youngsters from schools in Santiago have taken part in the 15 editions of Copa Chilectra"
The week of Chilean champions
For the 13 to 16 year-old winners of Copa Chilectra, the trip to Milan was full of thrills and memories to cherish, including television interviews at Piazza del Duomo and stories on Facebook describing the high points of the journey.
Before the match at San Siro they met Inter and Cagliari players, including Chileans Gary Medel and Mauricio Isla, and they visited the city and the stadium museum together with Zamorano.
The Chilean consul in Milan welcomed them, and then they visited the sports centre where the Inter junior teams train, playing an exhibition match against their peers who play on the black-and-blue team.
"Copa Chilectra brings together people committed to improving the quality of life for thousands of children, educating them in values such as solidarity, personal improvement and perseverance"
Iván Zamorano, former player for Inter, Real Madrid and the Chilean national team
The 2016 championship began with a first-class exhibition match between a delegation of Chile’s Olympic football team, which placed third in the Sydney 2000 Games, and a selection of boys who started out playing Copa Chilectra five-a-side football and ended up as professionals playing for the country’s major clubs and even the national team.
An idea that is spreading in Latin America
Copachilectra’s winning formula has now been adopted in other Latin American countries.
In Brazil we have created Capa Ampla and in Colombia Copa Codensa, and both of them promise success just two editions in, just like the Chilean championship. They are already a great source of entertainment and education for thousands of young people in Rio de Janeiro and Bogotá, shared with their families and teachers.