(Ecuador, Wichimi) -- If there is one thing that cannot be missing in an Achuar community, it is a soccer field. The love for this sport flows in the veins of both young and old. It is a taste shared by men and women, a sport around which the community meets to encourage their team, and to share the traditional "chicha" drink.
Soccer, or football, for Achuar is synonymous with happiness. This motivated Fr Agustín Togo to think of a project that involves football as an instrument for teaching human, Catholic and cultural values. After several months of talks with the communities and after obtaining funding, this idea took shape, and on 16 February 2020, the "Yankuam Jintia Football School" was officially inaugurated in the community of Wichimi.
The aim of the proposal is to educate children and young people not only from a technical point of view or knowledge of the rules of the sport, but – first and foremost - to educate them so that they learn the values of football and practice these values in their daily lives. “Don Bosco has always dreamed that young people were happy in everything they did. These people like football so much, why not start a football school for the Achuar?" said Fr Togo.
At the inauguration event, two community elders, Carlos Mukucham and Eduardo Mukuink, were at the table of the authorities. They thanked Fr Togo for his pastoral work and described the opening of this football school as a historic event. José Sanchim, administrator of Wichimi, expressed that all families will support this initiative and that in the future the idea is to generate sporting matches with other communities.
One of the most symbolic moments was the signing of the agreement, which provides for the care of the equipment provided, collaboration in the planned activities, and the commitment of the community in carrying out the teaching of the civic, spiritual and cultural values that are part of the football school.
Baptizing this project with the name of "Yankuam Jintia" - the name that was attributed to Fr Luis (Luigi) Bolla, for years a missionary among the Achuar - has a special meaning: it is a way to pay homage to this great Salesian missionary who worked for this Amazonian people all his life. In addition, many of those who knew him described him as a good footballer, and he was always seen playing with children.
The event ended with a demonstration of agility and speed exercises that brought together the entire community. Happiness was clearly visible on each of the faces of everyone present and, of course, on Father Togo's, who chose the school's motto, "From talent to vocation", so that the plan of God becomes reality in the life of these children.