Santiago 2023 welcomes CP Football to the programmeNews
Written by Paula Veiga - IFCPF Communications Officer (Americas)
Parapan American Games - Santiago 2023
On 3rd June, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) congratulated IFCPF on the inclusion of CP Football as part of the Parapan American Games, in the Santiago 2023 edition. Hosted by the Chilean capital, our beautiful sport will include 84 male athletes, from six American countries. It will be the first time Chile stages the event and the programme includes 17 sports. CP Football has been on the Parapan American Games since 2007.
For the Chile national team coach, Diego Bustamante, it will be an honour to hold a competition at this level and a dream to represent their country. He affirmed that for Chile it is important to continue and enhance the development of the sport. For him an event of this category will provide a huge boost in their country.
“This instance is also so beneficial that more children, youth, adults with cerebral palsy, and their families can join this wonderful sport. We hope that, together with the entire technical team, we can enjoy this great instance, which invites us to give the best of each and to represent our country at the highest level.”
In the vew of Chile player Patricio Saavedra, to represent the country in Santiago 2023 is a dream, and he hopes to leave their names written in the history of Chilean Paralympic sport. Saavedra has no doubt that it will be an unique opportunity. The games are a chance for athletes to show their performance on a global stage and to promote their countries values. The teams who will participate, other than Chile, have not been decided, but players like Hebert Lemes, from Brazil, look forward to the competition and continue to invest in themselves to take the best pathway.
“The Parapan American Games is a great showcase for the sport, attracting athletes, expanding the sport, developing it, and we had this sample in Lima, Peru. My sport and my delegation being in the games generates extra fuel. Knowing the size of the competition and how qualified the participating countries are, makes us train and seek to improve ourselves more and more. Few people have this opportunity and I hope to work hard and be present.”
The Brazilian coach, Paulo Cabral, detailed the country's performace in Lima 2019 as brilliant, with the emergence of new values and a very big renovation of the main team. From 2016, they had a team 100% renewed in the last edition of the Parapan American Games. By Cabral’s belief, it is important to be part of this competition, because when a product is showed to major sponsors, it creates a greater expectation for that particular sport.
“If you put CP Football in an international competition, you want to show that it is still alive and that it is a strong sport, which should be looked at differently by the people who took it out of the Paralympics Games. We can look at the Parapan American Games in Lima. If there was a game, the stadium was packed. It was no different at Rio 2016. So how does a sport like this get out of the Paralympics? Under no circumstances.”
The last edition of the Parapan American Games occured in Peru and the Brazilian delegation won the gold medal for the CP Football modality. Since the sport was taken out from the Paralympic Games, it has been a challenge for the national institutions and the international federation to keep CP Football alive. Countries like Brazil lost founding money from sponsors and the Parapan American Games will be a chance to show the importance of the sport.
“For Brazil, confirmation of CP football at the Parapan American Games in Chile is also extremely important, since the sport had significant cuts in financial contributions for its development, due to the fact that it is no longer part of the Paralympic Games program. This new scenario may bring a new incentive to coaches, clubs and athletes, who were very impacted by the difficulties mentioned above.”
From the IFCPF Technical Committee member and Brazil former coach, Paulo Cruz, perspective, the International Federation of Cerebral Palsy Football implemented a set of actions, like the development of CP Football (Female) and changes in the functional classification procedures, which contributed to the fact that the sport remained strong on the world stage, to the point of being included in the program of the Parapan American Games.
Osvaldo Hernandez, national director of the Federación de Fútbol Argentino de Parálisis Cerebral (FFAPC) school and former head coach of the Argentina national team of CP Football, states that the sport must provide instruments that allow making decisions subject to a set of priorities. In his words, young people with cerebral palsy find through sport an important opportunity to overcome obstacles and barriers erected by the cultural stereotypes that are rooted in society. He completes that the obligation and aspiration of the inclusion of sport in games is to occupy spaces considered of vital importance for the full development of a said social group.
“By being part of the Santiago 2023 program, our sport will grow even more and it will help to continue developing the 2019-2022 Strategic Plan of the IFCPF, so that the future of CP Football is built on a firm foundation, with fundamental values of Integrity, Unity, Leadership and Excellence. The future of CP Football will be very important with this decision of the Organizing Committee of Santiago 2023, which will undoubtedly help to be in a not too distant time within the Paralympic Games.”
To Hernandez, it is essential to understand the need for continuity in relation to the generation of chances, where Santiago 2023 is the greatest opportunity and the generator of the future. In the former head coach opinion, the participation of Argentina in Santiago 2023 ensures continuity in support of the development of CP Football, directly impacting the life of anyone with cerebral palsy who wants to play football. He explains that it happens because the state programs for the development of any sport with international projection imply more funds for talent search, competitions and professionals who are trained.
United States of America head coach, Stuart Sharp, also looks forward to Santiago 2023. He affirmed that the U.S. team visited the city for international matches in 2017 and found the experience extremely welcoming.
“Returning now to play against the best teams from the Americas region is something we will look forward to. It is also something special when you get to travel with the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee delegation and be part of something bigger than just the sport of soccer.”
In the US co-captain Josh Brunais' vision, the Games in 2023 are already something he aims and is excited to see what the city and the sporting venues have to offer. Brunais played in the last Parapan American Games, in 2019, and described the experience as fantastic. The athlet accounted Lima 2019 as the first ever medal won by the USA CP Football team in a competition. His ambition is to, in the next games, three years from now, win the gold medal.
Santiago 2023 Chief Executive Officer, Felipe De Pablo, shares that delivering the ParaPan and Pan American Games is a challenge in which they are working with great enthusiasm, in coordination with the Ministry of Sport, the National Institute of Sport, the Paralympic Committee of Chile, the Paralympic Committee of the Americas, the International Paralympic Committee, the Municipality of Santiago, Panam Sports, the Chilean Olympic Committee, as well as various public and private entities involved in a sports and citizen event of this magnitude.
"Under a collaborative spirit, the experience and knowledge of the different Pan American Confederations and International Sports Federations is decisive for us. In this context, the support of the Federation that you preside is of vital importance for the success of the tasks that we will have to address in these three upcoming years of work."