It is Sunday morning, April 23, 7:30 am, in Caracas at the Sports complex of the Universidad Metropolitana (UNIMET) located in the Las Terrazas del Ávila district in the north-east of the city. For some time now, the students from the 13th edition of the UNIMET/FIFA/CIES International University Network Programme have been busy completing the final preparations for the VI Copa UNIMET, which is an event forming part of their academic training. In a few moments the buses with the four U-12 teams participating in the tournament will arrive. The competition is due to start at eight o'clock. The organisers have made a point of keeping to the timetable.
Students have been working for several months in committees and plenary sessions to organise the tournament under the supervision of Oswaldo Narváez, who is head of the event management module, and who will soon arrive to encourage his students. This competition is a sort of culmination of six months of study. To carry out the project, they had to put into practice the theoretical aspects of sports management they had learned in class. This includes planning an event, mastering budgetary and legal aspects, communicating with stakeholders, promoting the tournament in the media, finding sponsors, managing infrastructure, security, medical staff, risks and contingencies. The whole class had to work together on a common project and as a united group.
The four teams are now on site. They are Club Deportivo Athletic Litoral, Club Deportivo La Montaña, Academia de Fútbol Nuevos Talentos and Civicus Sport. Three of them are managed by students and alumni of the UNIMET/FIFA/CIES Network Programme. The referees discuss with the officials. The supporters wait for the start of the competition in the stands - or under tents because the rain threatens and the sunny spells are real "blowtorches". Among the guests, one can recognise Sabrina Suárez, Deputy Secretary General of the Venezuelan Football Federation (FVF) and a former student too, as well as Luis Santiago Perera, Secretary General of UNIMET, Ricardo Da Silva Moreira, Dean of the Postgraduate and Continuing Education Faculty of UNIMET, Rafael Espinoza, Director of the UNIMET/FIFA/CIES Programme and Victor Ledezma, CIES Coordinator in Venezuela. Eventually a whistle blows and the first two matches start on time. The first challenge is won!
The students’ objective was to encourage the development of grassroots football in Venezuela. They also wanted to place the VI Copa UNIMET under the sign of integration - to offer young people the possibility of playing a tournament under ideal conditions, in a spirit of competition certainly, but also of respect and fair play. In addition, they collected toys to donate to the association "Doctor Yaso", a group of clowns whose aim is to give a smile to children in hospitals. The clowns were present in the stadium and entertained the public in a lively and funny way.
The matches follow one another. The faces of the junior footballers are often happy, sometimes frowning after a defeat. However, the disappointment quickly gives way to enthusiasm, the pleasure of playing, and the desire to create an exploit. The tournament continues in good spirits and without incident.
During a break, a group of young athletes deliver a taekwondo demonstration. Indeed, the students wanted the VI Copa UNIMET to be a meeting place for different sports. Later, Antonio Diaz, who is the World Champion in Karate, will speak. The eSports team of the Venezuelan Football Federation will also come to the field to meet with the players, the public and the organisers.
Soon, it is time for the final. A match full of tension and emotion with a penalty against Civicus Sport who, led by their captain – a girl - will nevertheless win the competition.
A little later, the organisers presented medals, special prizes and trophies to the participants in the presence of David Quintanilla, Secretary General of FVF. This is the time for hugs and applause. The teams then return to their buses. The students, all wearing their "Somos la 13" t-shirts, gather for a last photo before starting to put away chairs, tables, tents, coolers, banners, podiums, advertising panels and sports equipment. For them, it is mission accomplished! They have organised the tournament perfectly, and were able to combine sport and community involvement. Congratulations to them. The VI Copa UNIMET, as with previous editions, has entered the history of the FIFA/CIES International University Network.