BRAZIL - It was the summer of 1997, when a fresh-faced Ronaldo, well on his way to stardom, was unveiled to the press with a previously unseen Nerazzurri shirt featuring the Inter Campus logo. In those same months began the adventure which would start in Recife, but spread to 30 different locations in the country today.
While Brazilian culture has always been deeply intertwined with the game of football, a symbol of redemption and integration, of equal dignity and national pride, from that moment onwards, Nerazzurri colours were also intertwined with green and gold. A natural relationship filled with history and passion through which Inter Campus, over the past twenty years, has carved out an important place for itself.
In an era marked by so many South Americans thriving at the Club, the Nerazzurri social project played an even more fundamental role, appealing to the national identity so key to the dreams of all of those young people in the country, playing on cracked fields with makeshift balls. From Recife to the rest of the country: in the space of just a few months Inter Campus had arrived in the favelas of Rio, Sao Paolo and Pititinga in Rio Grande do Norte, entering the lives of thousands of young boys and girls.
In the meantime, Brazil flew to World Cup success over Germany at the 2002 edition of the tournament, much in thanks to a brace from Ronaldo who was on his way out at Inter. That final, featuring a touch of Italian thanks to referee Collina, saw Brazil crowned World Champions for the fifth time in history: “pentacampeones”, as they often remind us.
Then the Inter Campus World Cup in Tuscany at the end of 2009, which took place in the same year as that Treble secured by Maicon, Lucio, Julio Cesar and Thiago Motta. Once again these Brazilians were able to express their skill and joy out on the pitch, with the carefree style of football typical of their tradition. Carefree, musical and fun: their approach to life reflected in sport.
But as is often the case, new challenges were on the horizon: the World Cup arrived in Brazil and two years later so did the Olympics, both along with the complexity of organising two massive events. Social and political protests ensued, many of which were very close to us. One more than any other, for that barrier erected at the edge of the road, on the route from Rio airport to the beaches. Once upon a time, when driving by car, you could see the communities and small campsites, always crowded with children no matter what time of day or temperature, all the way from Ipanema to Copacabana. But that was a face of Brazil that the authorities didn’t want any of the incoming tourists to see.
In the end the Seleção lost, in that famous 7-1 drumming at the hands of the Germany that Brazil had beaten in the final all those years earlier. It was a moment for deep analysis and reflection, with much more than the goals conceded being the problem in that match. A deep embarrassment on the biggest of stages and a difficult wound to heal.
The first children of Inter Campus, those who had begun as youngsters in 1997, were now teenagers on the path to adulthood, some of them already with children and families. They had grown up alongside the Nerazzurri values of sport and philosophy, hopefully inspired by the respect found in football towards teammates and opponents alike. Many are on their way to a future full of hope, just like the future their country is striving towards too, despite all of the social and development problems they may encounter along the way.
The opening of the most recent project centre in Camocim in 2016, thanks to the support of a partner who, like us, believes in the educational value of football, was a way of reaffirming that Inter Campus will not stop, on the contrary, we’re a growing family, a family that takes care of the generations of tomorrow.
Victories and defeats, metaphors for the highs and lows that life offers each of us. Moments that we hope our children will be able face in the best way possible, also in thanks to the years spent together, on those cracked pitches where Inter Campus will never tire of playing.