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Between insults, blows and dreams: stories behind the short-sized Peruvian team that will seek to shine in the Copa América

Between insults, blows and dreams: stories behind the short-sized Peruvian team that will seek to shine in the Copa América

Between insults, blows and dreams: stories behind the short-sized Peruvian team that will seek to shine in the Copa América

“I thought they were my size, but they are bigger than me”pronounced convinced Diego Armando Maradona meeting some guys from the short-sized peruvian team in Argentina. That day, Fabián Chira, founder of the team, and a couple of his teammates fulfilled their dream of meeting the ‘Pibe de Oro’ live and direct, but they won much more than just talking to him: a simple but honorable compliment from their part, which has encouraged them to continue dreaming beyond adversity. The second 2022 Short Cup America, which will be played in our country, will be the perfect setting to continue doing so.

Maradona was 1.65 meters tall, but that did not prevent him -among many things- from lifting a world Cup, score the famous “goal of the century” and enter the most glorious pages of football history. Undoubtedly, he was bigger than many of his opponents who were close to two meters tall.

But bigger than ‘Pelusa’ himself, according to his own words, are the players of the national team of short stature. The vast majority of them, unlike Maradona, has achondroplasia, a genetic disorder that prevents his limbs from growing. The heights of this team vary between meter twenty and meter thirty. But that condition does not prevent them from aspiring to the top.

The beggining

It all started through Fabian Chira. He is Chalaco and soccer has always been part of his life, both at school and in his neighborhood. But many times he was excluded from his teams. “He was the last one they chose, it was the sweet potato or the ‘goal'”remember.

In 2013, Fabián started working on the IPD. Initially, he was the Control Center Operator at the National Stadium and he saw a great opportunity in this job to embark on a special adventure with more people from short stature.

And it is that, while playing a neighborhood pichanga in 2014 with more people of his condition, he came up with the great idea of ​​managing more games like this on the esplanade of the National Stadium. Several joined. This is how he was able to meet Giuliana Poveda, who “Now she is the best in the world in women’s parabadminton”, as well as Jesús Salvá. But not only them.

Fabián began to add many people from short stature to his journey, through friends and also through social networks. “I know a boy who is very good at swimming who told me ‘I only saw you on television, I wrote down your name, I wrote you on Facebook and in that moment my life changed'”bill.

Precisely in this way, Fabián also met many of those who today make up the Peruvian team of short stature. Oswaldo Pacheco and Jairo Perez They were among the first to arrive. Later, they added Angelo Jesus, Gian Costantino, Yover Clemente, Dilmer Pérez, Diego Quispe and so many more.

In fact, the special tactic that Fabián used was to distinguish as someone who could be summoned each person he came across on any day, at any time, in any place. “If I was riding a bus and I saw from below that I was going to a person from short staturein the other block he would make the bus stop and he would run to contact the person and invite him to the team”, He says. The Association of Small People of Peru also represented an important means to increase the group.

That was their first contact. But he was not the only one. With his teammates, Fabián began to travel to various cities in Peru as a form of integration and there was always time to add more cracks to the team. “We have gone to Arequipa, Huánuco and other cities. We did a soccer exhibition, the field was filled and then people from all over the world arrived. short staturebill.

That is why the national squad is not only made up of players from Lima or Chalacos, but from different parts of the country. Ángelo, for example, comes from Iquitos. And then there are also other boys from Cusco, Rioja, Nueva Cajamarca, among other cities far from the capital.

Of this group, Diego Quispe He was one of the last to join. His passion has always been football, but he is also a outstanding paraathlete in parapowerlifting. In fact, he won a bronze medal at the World Cup in his discipline that took place in 2019. And now he wants to continue his success with football.

A path with insults and blows

Everyone has a story to tell. And Fabián, like his other classmates, went from being excluded to creating an inclusive environment for everyone. Of course, the road has been quite difficult and it still is. Insults, jokes and blows against them are a daily bread. But already many have learned to deal with it.

‘Dwarf’ was the most common insult they received from other people, something that affected them a lot mainly in their childhood. “When I was little, people called me that. My mom defended me and told me not to pay attention to them”Angelo remembers. “In games they didn’t choose us, they raffled us off,” Clemente recalls.

Gian, for his part, has always had to deal with different teasing in various environments. But inside his house they have always instilled in him not to pay attention to what they tell him. “We are all the same. Simply the only thing that differentiates us is physical condition, size. Today I don’t care what people tell me”He says.

For the simple fact of being a person of short statureJairo Pérez has not only had to deal with nicknames and insults, but also with deliberate hits. “Sometimes they punched us. We didn’t have the stature to defend ourselves or avoid them. It was sad for us.”narrates.

Many times, his family stood up for him, but when he went out alone or with a friend it was total hell. There were endless times when he felt humiliated and ashamed. “We are all flesh and blood”he comments sadly.

His younger brother, Dilmer, has also suffered this type of discrimination. “Sometimes they called me an avocado head, a big head and so many things that I don’t want to imagine now (…) Those people may later have their children and hopefully they won’t be the same as us because I know it’s ugly to be discriminated against by people ”comment.

For all these reasons, football represents an important shield for this group. “Sport changed my life. It made me leave the world where I lived”says Diego. In fact, not only Diego’s life changed, but everyone’s, or at least improved. “Now that I met several colleagues, I feel happy, with a family”highlights Oswaldo.

Now, on the street, especially when they go in a group, they are recognized as the Peruvian team of short stature, which means a privilege for them. Everyone’s dream was to represent the country and show that they can. And that is what they are doing.

Football makes us visible to society. We showed that we also do something to represent the country”expresses Yover Clemente, grateful for the opportunities that this sport has given him.

endless anecdotes

In 2015, La Videna witnessed the first match between teams from short stature of history Peru and Argentina met in an exciting friendly, which ended 4-3 in favor of the albiceleste. From there, the curtain rose on many more adventures.

Among so many anecdotes, the national team has already made two visits to Argentina that they will never forget. In one of them he met Maradona. And his phrase, the one at the beginning of this text, will remain engraved forever in the hearts of those who were able to meet him.

The memories of the trips are also latent, or in the dressing rooms themselves. And it is that in the coexistence of this group jokes have never been lacking. “There are always jokes, as you see here. For example, they go into the dressing room and hide the clothes”says Fabián, while his other colleagues annoy each other and ‘lap’ each other in a conference room.

“But the most beautiful thing is that now, when we go out in a group, people on the street say ‘there is the selection'”Fabián comments with certainty.

Peruvian Short Size Soccer Team trains at Sports Center 1 of Legado Videna headquarters |  Photo: Legacy/ Germán Falcón

This sport grew over time and in 2018 the first America Cup of short stature in history precisely in Argentina, where nine teams participated. The champion in that event was Paraguay.

Four years have passed and now Peru will be the country that hosts this important tournament, which promotes inclusion at all costs. At the Legacy headquarters, at Videna Sports Center 1, the Peruvian team will seek to establish itself, although it will not be easy.

to win the trophy

from the next May 20 to 24, 15 selected short They will seek to bring great joy to the country, but before that they will seek to demonstrate that they are also fully capable of representing us.

says Fabian.

Our teams will have to compete for glory with soccer players from Argentina, the United States, Brazil, Chile, Bolivia, Mexico, Paraguay, Colombia, Ecuador, Canada, Guatemala and Morocco. That is why the support in the Legacy house will be important.

“For us it is great, because the America Cup It will be done here in Lima. We know that we will be well represented by each of my colleagues. says Diego.

Peruvian Short Size Soccer Team trains at Sports Center 1 of Legado Videna headquarters |  Photo: Legacy/ Germán Falcón

In recent weeks, the national team has been preparing hard with training sessions for two hours a day from Monday to Friday. Now, they hope that this effort will bear fruit. And, therefore, the target is already planted. “Raise the Cup and make people happy”assures Yover Clemente and his other colleagues support him. Add.

That is the great goal. And if we talk about other dreams… “be big”Fabian jokes. “As a person obviously”, complements between laughs. The truth is that everyone seeks that, through these events, inclusion is always a priority and that the shorts sport continue to grow steadily.

Peru in the draw for the Copa América |  Photo: GEC

Fabián, for example, continues to fight for a more accessible world for all through Inclulab, a consulting firm that he founded in 2019 to promote the labor inclusion of people with any type of disability. Diego, for his part, wishes “to have a hotbed that plays a Copa América and dedicates a goal to his father”.

Yover, Gian, Jairo Dilmer, Oswaldo, Ángelo share similar dreams. Beyond representing Peru and triumphing in the Copa América, the most important thing is that everyone found a true family in this team. Without discrimination. No exclusion. And that is priceless.

Short Peruvian team in the draw for the Copa América 2022 |  Photo: GEC

Source: Elcomercio

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