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Futbolistas: Part 1

Report by Kim Bruce, 12/5/06

Through a generous donation from Leichhardt Saints FC (www.leichhardtsaints.com) of Sydney, Australia, Cartagenitos was able to supply Club Sporting Marzola with some much needed football equipment.

Club Sporting Marzola is a football school run by Diovannis Marzola, an Italian born Colombian coach who volunteers his time to teach under-privileged kids for free. Training sessions receive up to 60 children three times a week and until recently they had only one football for the whole school. The conditions in which they train are not ideal, the park they practice in often has horses grazing in it, but the boys perservere for the love of the game. Children in the club come from the local community of Crespo which also has a club in a formal league. While the cost of joining for a year with this club is only $20, the familes of these kids cannot afford to pay. Four of the players come from a local orphanage and without Diovannis' club they would have no access to a competition.

Diovannis is an ex-champion boxer whom has a Level 2 football coaching certificate. His team has inspired similar clubs around Cartagena who also cannot afford to participate in a regular league and there is now an unofficial competition between these teams. There are four teams now in this unofficial league - Diovannis' was the first. The only cost to the kids is about 70c which they pay to the referee at the match. The club has a well worn set of strips which were donated by a local autoshop. Less than a third of the kids have football boots which makes substitutions a race to change clothes and footwear as soon as possible.

The equipment was presented on behalf of 'Santos' (Saints) before a match this morning. The match was between Marazola and Colon, a team that is run by an ex-pupil of Diovannis'. It was a 1-1 draw and at the end of the match all the kids came to shake my hand. Football was definitely the winner today.