I’m pretty sure quite a few Guatemalan people will relate to my story. My family lives and breathes football...it’s a passion that grows with every game.
I live in a town called Villa Nueva, to the south of Guatemala City. The area is known as the “Red Zone” due to the amount of criminal gangs there and the high crime rate. It’s easier to find drugs here than a football pitch.
In an effort to give our children an alternative to joining a gang, my family and I started to get kids between the ages of 7 and 12 (the same age as three of my nephews) into football. We got seven boys together in the afternoons, after they’d done their homework, and encouraged them to work football into their daily routines. And I have to say that a few of them have got the makings of great players. I hope they get the chance to become professional players one day because they’ve got the talent.
It’s been a bit of a struggle but we’ve managed to register them with a team that plays in one of Guatemala’s most competitive amateur leagues. The problem we’ve got is that they play in the capital and it takes us about an hour and a half to get there by bus. Sometimes we’ve got to be there at 6.30 am, so you can imagine how hard it is.
Aside from the time it takes, there’s also the constant threat of hold-ups and robberies, which is a fact of life when you use the public transport system here. It’s such a shame. A lot of the time they’ll kill you just for your mobile phone, and if you don’t believe me, then just take a look at the crime figures for my country. That’s the main reason why we Need a Kia, so that these seven kids from Villa Nueva can carry on playing football without being threatened every time they make the journey.
As the saying in my country goes, “One sportsperson more is one criminal less”, and that’s exactly what we’re fighting for.