“We won’t be able to solve Angola’s social problems, but we can teach these children to be people who won’t stop in the face of difficulties and who look to the future with the hope that things can improve by setting an example and filling their hearts with happiness in being together and playing football.”
When he talks about these topics during meetings with parents and children, Gouveia Caquezo, 39 and part of Inter Campus Angola since 2009 as well as national technical coordinator since 2013, immediately conveys his great dedication and passion for the education and training of the new generations. From the slums of Luanda Lixeira, where Gouveia lives with his wife Cristina and his two children, this boy has become a man thanks to Inter Campus’ teachings. He started eleven years ago as a simple coach of boys and girls in the Mota community, and everyone then slowly noticed him for his great willingness, openness and precision: he organised tournaments and events where hundreds of children poured into the pitches of the Salesian communities to play and socialise whilst chasing a ball that has become a symbol of union and social identification in a country where the average life expectancy barely reaches 50 and where finding a job to feed your family is no easy task.
The rise of Inter Campus’ numbers (there are now 800+ boys and girls in the project), of its centres (there are now nine bases in four provinces across the country), of its coaches (more than 60) and of its children who go on to become coaches (about 50% of the coaches themselves come from Inter Campus’ educational academy) is also thanks to him. The formative moments organised with the children’s families as well as numerous recreational activities that accompany training all help to provide a much more rounded and deeper education than standard activities.
The boy who became a man and then a leader represents the indomitable ability to keep going in the face of challenges, finding his own way and reason for living by helping others and coaching children.
Gouveia represents continuity in an environment of change, and all Salesian leaders have appreciated his work, as well as Inter Campus, who recognise his role as a leader and an example for children and coaches; children and coaches who, also via football, seek a small relief from the great difficulties that grip the country.
He loves to conclude his sentences with the phrase “Sem problema” ['No problem'] so that when he talks to children the underlying message is that there’s a solution for everything.