When an Argentinian expresses pride in the beauty and potential of their homeland, there is every chance you will hear them say: “Argentina is a country with every climate!” Though that is a claim several other countries around the world can also make, it does encapsulate everything that the host nation of the Youth Olympic Futsal Tournaments Buenos Aires 2018 has to offer.
It is not for nothing that Argentina is the fifth most visited country in the Americas and the third in South America, according to the World Tourism Organization, which said that 5,559,000 people visited Argentina in 2016.
One of the largest countries in South America, Argentina has a lot to offer, from its varying landscapes, fascinating history, and cultural diversity to its cuisine and love of sport.
Argentina gained independence from the Spanish empire on 9 July 1816, the culmination of a process that had begun six years earlier with the so-called “Revolución de Mayo”, an historical event that gives its name to the square opposite the Casa de Gobierno (Government House), in Buenos Aires.
It was in this very spot that the revolution began, in the Cabildo (the site of Spain’s colonial administration in the city), overlooking the square and situated at the other end of the Casa de Gobierno.
The largest Spanish-speaking country in the world and the eighth largest country of all, it has a surface area of 2,780,400 km². According to the most recent official census, conducted in 2010, it is home to just over 40 million people.
A little under three million of them live in Buenos Aires, though the total population of the Greater Buenos Aires area is nearly 13 million.
Thanks to its size and range of climates, Argentina is a major tourism destination, as the figures show.
Buenos Aires is one of the country’s biggest attractions, thanks to its architecture (with its many influences, most of them European), its thriving cultural scene (including its dramatic arts and tango, its famous traditional dance), and its cuisine (with barbecued meat the star dish, as in the rest of the country).
The rest of Argentina has a lot to offer as well, not least Iguazú Falls (in the province of Misiones), the Perito Moreno glacier (in Santa Cruz), the Quebrada de Humahuaca (a narrow mountain valley in Jujuy), the northern province of Salta, Mendoza and its winemaking regions, the Pampa Humeda (the extensive grasslands in the country’s north east), and much more beyond that.
Futsal in Argentina
Argentina’s love of football is world famous, while futsal is a popular and accessible sport that is also enjoyed by many, including women, with more and more mixed-gender and women’s matches now being played.
The discipline was introduced to the country shortly after its invention by the Uruguayan Juan Carlos Ceriani in 1930, and its popularity began to grow among local neighbourhood teams and professional football clubs. The Argentinian Football Association (AFA) set up the first men’s championship in 1986, and although most of the 14 clubs taking part hailed from Buenos Aires, it was provincial outfit Rosario Central that won the first title.
At first, only AFA-registered teams could take part, but in 1997, the championship was opened up to local clubs. Some 65 teams now compete in its three divisions and in an additional tournament called the Copa Argentina, in which all the country’s futsal teams take part. The provinces also have their own regional leagues.
Meanwhile, the AFA’s women’s championship is comprised of 32 clubs competing in a first and second division.
Argentinian futsal enjoyed its proudest moment in 2016, when the men’s national team won the FIFA Futsal World Cup in Colombia, an historic achievement that led to the creation of the Argentinian National Futsal League, which will stage its first season in 2018. To be played between April and November, the new competition features 120 teams from 13 provinces, who will compete in 27 leagues in six geographical regions.