Quemchi is a town in the island-scattered Los Lagos region some 1,200km down Panamerican Sur/Ruta 5 south of the Chilean capital of Santiago. Each island has its school but each school accessibility issues.
To reach the furthest island from the district capital means an hour and a half by speedboat.
Pleasures and entertainments are limited but football ranks high among them. The challenge is kit and facilities. This is why the children of Quemchi were singled out for the latest boots campaign organised by the Ganamos Todos foundation.
Now these children, in their minds, can briefly transform their local muddy sports fields or waste land into Wembly or Camp Nou.
Chile stretches down 4,154km from Visviri in the north to Puerto Williams in the south and the target set by Ganamos Todos is to donate 4,154 pairs of boots to 4,154 boys and girls in 16 different localities up and down the country.
One day foundation founder Harold Mayne-Nicholls wants to export the project beyond Chile to perhaps Cuba then Africa.
The project is not merely about football boots but about education. Football is a means to a greater end.
Mayne-Nicholls says: “The population of Quench is near 10,000 and 58pc of those never finished the primary school. Seven per cent never went to a educational establishment. So we thought: ‘Perhaps if we could can give each kid a pair of shoes at the end of the year then they will have a good motivation to go back to school next year”.
Fundación Ganamos Todos (www.ganamostodos.cl) was created in 2011 by Mayne-Nicholls after his departure from the presidency of the Chilean federation in 2011.
He says: “My goal then was to give back to the people everything they gave me as a president. Without their support it would have been impossible to do everything we achieved in Chilean football between 2007 and 2010.
“Our main goal is to introduce more girls and boys to physical activities. The main reason for this is the huge number of obese children we have in Chile plus the high sedentary state of our population and the increasing amount of social disintegration among our young people.
“We are sure that through sport we can combat these three huge social problems.”
Hence Ganamos Todos has developed 225 activity projects in well over 300 municipalities involving 250,000 children.
The football shoes campaign has been running since 2011 and now also counts on sponsorship support from Museo de la Moda, Agrosuper and CSI among others.
Mayne-Nicholls says: “Every year before Christmas we give some kids football shoes. We have done it in Valparaíso, Maipú, La Florida, Villarrica, Puerto Montt, San Esteban, Osorno, Takca and now Quench.
“Initially we collected used football shoes and took them to a jail where prisoners cleaned them so we could give them to the kids.
“This year we changed the system: we collected used shoes and I would give motivational speeches at schools, universities and companies they ‘paid’ with used and new football shoes.
“That was, this past year, we collected 450 used shoes in our office and we gave 450 new shoes to the kids in Quench.
“We are ready to go and give them to any organisation that asks. It dooesn’t matter where. If any football club or league or associations needs shoes for their kids, we will donate them as a solidarity program.”
More information from Ronnie Braidy at email@example.com