FROM THE ANDES TO THE OCEAN WHILST HELPING YOUNG PEOPLE FIND EMPLOYMENT
Ecuador, nestled between Colombia and Peru on the Pacific coast of South America, may be small but it contains a wealth of diverse attractions; Andean peaks, Amazon rainforest, indigenous markets, colonial towns and sun-drenched beaches.
The country’s capital, Quito, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is lined with cobblestone streets, photogenic plazas, 17th-century churches and monasteries, and beautifully restored mansions from the country’s Spanish colonial past. You can also visit the ‘exact center of the world’ at the Itiñan Sol Museum, located at exactly zero degrees Latitude.
Like most of Central and South America, Ecuador is soccer-mad, and fútbol is the national obsession. You’ll meet former professional stars and play with local kids and even take in a local professional match (subject to schedule). Soccer thrives in lower-income working class areas where it is often the only recreational outlet available, such as the Andean foothills outside Quito, where 64% of the population lives below the poverty line.
Esmereldas and Mindo
From Quito you’ll journey to the tropical province of Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas, named after the local ethnic group. You’ll visit a local Tsáchila community, meet and chat with the locals and take a waterfall tour before taking the field for a friendly match against a soccer school started by Ivan Kaviedes, a local soccer legend and World Cup star for Ecuador.
Next you’ll travel to Mompiche in the Northwest coastal province of Esmeraldas, known not only for having the best beaches in the country, but also for producing the country’s best soccer players. You’ll get plenty of practice, whether playing beach soccer with the locals or stepping up your game at the National High Performance Center at Green River. You’ll also visit the Chamanga Allbuerge, where families displaced by the devastating 2016 earthquake still stay and take in a show celebrating Ecuador’s Afro-Indian culture.
Mindo, a tiny town surrounded by forested mountains, is a popular backpacker destination where you can try out the many adventure sports on offer and watch a local game. Your final stop will be Otavalo, whose craft market dates back hundreds of years to pre-Inca times and where Otavaleños and indígena (indigenous) people from the surrounding villages still wear traditional clothing – women in embroidered white blouses, long wool skirts, fachalinas (headcloths), woven belts, canvas sandals and strands of beads; and men in felt hats, blue ponchos and calf-length pants, hair braided in one long strand.
This destination offers a range of soccer activities that we can use to create experiences from BEGINNER to ELITE level.
Experiences available include*;
- Training session with former professional soccer player Juan Carlos Burbano
- Play friendly matches with local teams (various levels)
- Attend a local professional match (subject to availability and additional cost)
- Train at the Ministry of Sports High Performance Center in Esmereldas
- Play against a team from Ecuador soccer legend Ivan Kaviedes’ academy
- Friendly games with coaches from FUDELA
- Pick up soccer with local kids
- Experience playing at altitude