Sun. Apr 21st, 2019

The moving story of a child from the Barça Academy in Zambia

La conmovedora historia de un niño de la Barça Academy en Zambia

I will run like a black

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to live as a target

Samuel Eto'o

-We had opened the school in Zambia on April 1 last year. I arrived ten days later. It came from the Barça Academy from Dubai. The differences were total!

Jordi Rovira tells me that (29).

Today, Rovira is the director of the Barça Academy of Zambia.

-Differences? In what sense?

-In Dubai I had seen luxury in its broadest sense. In Zambia I discovered the pure and hard misery of real life.

- What luxuries were there in Dubai?

-The children of the emirates have little football spirit. They skipped workouts and games and nobody came to apologize. Many were brought by a driver and all, a maid. Contacting their parents was impossible. And the older ones were dad's kids driving a Ferrari. They only needed to play with Barça to round out their profile.

-And in Zambia?

-Ooooh. Let me tell you about Japhet.

Japhet Sakala is twelve years old. Accompany Jordi Rovira in the image that illustrates this story. Both are at the Barça Academy in Lusaka.

Japhet was chosen by the academy Barca, but had many impediments to get to training

Japhet Sakala comes out of a compound in Lusaka. We can translate compound as camp. They are closed spaces that welcome poor families, or suffer from diseases. Or to orphans.

The academy was committed to receiving twenty players from poor neighborhoods. They must play football well. The selected children do not pay for registration or clothing. They train for free.

They receive valuable treatment privilege.

Japhet Sakala's father had died as a result of malaria. The boy played football well. Jordi Rovira chose him.

Japhet Sakala started going to the academy. After two weeks, he disappeared. He returned days later and said he could train at six in the afternoon, not at five.

-Why? Jordi Rovira asked him.

-Because I leave school at five. And walking, from there, it took an hour and a half to get there. If I run too fast I can get to six ...

They gave him permission. The child could enter the academy later. But it disappeared again. Then he said he could not walk around at six thirty in the afternoon. It was already closed night and his mother forbade him.

Jordi Rovira went to see the parents. He took the car and walked the road to Japhet Sakala's house. There he knew that the father had died. Jacqueline, the mother, and the grandmother lived with the six children. Japhet was the second.

Rovira talked with the mother:

- Why does not your son come to train?

-Because it's very expensive. I can not pay for the bus. It's six euros a week.

Jordi Rovira promised to pay for the transport. Every Monday I would give the money to the child. They kept talking:

"But he can not go to school because the school will not let him leave before five," the mother said.

- Have you talked to the director?

- He does not receive me.

-Do you want me to talk to him? Jordi Rovira offered himself again.

Jacqueline burst into tears.


Jordi Rovira tells me:

-Imagínate: I was a white out of nowhere that promised to solve problems ... So I dressed the boy from Barca, I took it to school, the director offered me tea and the problem was solved in five minutes. Japhet could leave before class.

-What had you seen in him?

-I did not do it because I thought I would be a great professional. I did it because he is a cheerful child. He has 50,000 problems and always smiles. To the family he bought oil, milk, water ... The mother does not work. Only the eldest son does it (14). In two years, Japhet would have to work too. Because look what happened next ...

- ...?

The Barça Academy World Cup is held this week at the Ciutat Esportiva and the Mini. Japhet will be in the tournament

-One day I'm going to visit Japhet and I find the owner of his house. Jacqueline tells me that she claims two months of delay in the rent. That he can not pay. What they throw.

- How much talk?

-50 euros per month.


-I paid for them, of course. And since then, I always pay them.

-The boy, is he a good footballer?

-It's a second-year child. He is right-handed. It can be lateral or extreme. Technically he is good, although small for his age. Arriving in Europe will be difficult, but you have a future in your country.

-A footballer in Zambia makes money?

-In the First, maybe a thousand euros. For them, that is to be almost millionaire. In Zambia, a family lives six months with that money.


If you feel like it, the reader can see Japhet Sakala from this Monday, at the Barça Academy World Cup. The tournament is held at the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper and the MiniEstadi, until Thursday.

To get here, Japhet Sakala has taken the first plane of his life. In January he bathed in his first pool. Two months ago he ate at his first restaurant.

These days he has discovered the sea.

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