Inter Campus in the Venezuelan barrios

CARACAS – Living in the shanty towns of Caracas means living in constant fear of violence – something which can explode any minute here. It’s an impression you get straight away in these areas that are completely lacking in basic hygienic facilities such as clean water and sewage systems. Even the layout of the barrios themselves seems conducive to violence: a labyrinth of alleyways, steps, huts built one of top of each other and secret passageways make it the ideal location for juvenile delinquency to thrive.

These are areas that remain almost unknown to the local authorities and police and yet the black and blue of Inter has managed to penetrate even here. In the chabolas (shanty towns) of San Isidro and Los Erasos, Inter Campus has managed to make headway with the help of Fundacion Magallanes.

Local coordinator Luis Merola together with coach and technical coordinator Mario Berdugo wanted to be involved in this peaceful Inter Campus invasion from the off. Mario lives in San Isidro. He beams a contagious smile as he proudly shows off the rainwater collector that provides him with running water in his house and when he tells us that Inter Campus is changing the lives of the 150 kids involved in our project. Every day these children are gathered together, with the help of the Don Bosco Peru and Mesa educator-trainers, to train and play football, away from the risks they encounter on a daily basis elsewhere.

There was a real party atmosphere in the air when it came to handing out the new Inter kits. The children’s old shirts, still in good condition despite all the use they’ve seen, provide a sense of belonging to the project. Started in 2010, it’s already given them rules and much more besides.

Some of the kids didn’t want to wear their new jerseys, and instead put them in a bag to be used at a future time. Then our coaches Silvio and Roberto reassured them that next year there would be more even better jerseys coming their way.

In this city that holds the unenviable record of the world’s highest homicide rate, with an average of 19 killings per day, Inter Campus has put down some important roots. Our project is being emulated by sporting institutions like Clubes de Pelota and private schools, who are starting to plan medium-to-long-term integration projects involving the youngsters who live in poverty in the barrios. And our refresher courses for coaches are very popular, aiming to improve local trainers’ knowledge of educational processes through a specially designed teaching model based on the most beautiful game in the world.