The conflicts and doubts of an Inter Campus coach


Nelson’s frank and sincere comments about the disillusionment and hope felt by many coaches who, like him, refuse to give up on youngsters’ futures

“Looking at this photo fills me with a lot of joy but also a sense of sadness.

It’s wonderful to see those pure and sincere smiles that result from being a child, playing, running after a ball and celebrating a goal by imitating a national team player or idol. This is priceless, and no money in the world would be able to buy this. And yet it saddens me that many of them will unfortunately throw their lives away due to either alcohol, drugs or other unfortunate choices.

I’m sorry to be so frank, but this is the sober truth.

It’s a film I’ve watched several times. There are so many children that I’ve seen grow up to become adults but who then unfortunately start going down the wrong path. It really is very sad. Each of these children have a dream, but regrettably not all of them will be able to achieve it. Many dreams will be lost along the way, and many dreams will be ripped away by alcohol or lost to drugs, lack of opportunities or family problems. I speak from experience: more than 20 years of the Inter Campus project have passed: I’ve had many joyful moments but also many sad experiences. I wish I could help every child and every family, but this just isn’t feasible. It’s complicated for people living as part of the community. It’s sad seeing that youngster who took to our little pitch when they were six years old and who I saw grow up walk through the neighbourhood completely lost because of alcohol or drugs. It’s devastating.

Many will say "What do you care? He's not your son..." But I believe that we all have the responsibility to guide these youngsters towards the right path. This week, I was very touched by the story of a mother: her son took part in the project many years ago and today he’s unfortunately in prison. After hearing news like this, I instinctively thought about throwing the towel in. But the words this mother said made me stop, think, take a deep breath and gave me the motivation to continue. Despite everything, her grandson is also involved in the sport. She told me: “My grandson can’t wait to start playing football with Inter Campus, he’s so excited to begin. And thank you for the opportunities you gave my son…” People and words like this really make me believe that, despite the fact they’re not my children, I can make a difference in their lives, even if it isn’t possible to save everyone. I’ve seen how painful it is when a child goes down the wrong path, and I know mothers who are forced to deal with this challenge on a daily basis. It really is painful when sons and daughters become addicted to alcohol or drugs, when they stay out on the street all night as their mothers and fathers worry at home, sometimes only making their way back when their parents have already gone to work.

This is why I would like to ask every mother and everyone with a child in their family to take care of them, give them more attention and more affection, and hug them, because sometimes they only need you in their lives.

Thank you to every single parent for their trust, thank you from the bottom of my heart."

Nelson, Caju training camp, Inter Campus Brazil

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