Starting today, the young indigenous fútboleros of Latin America are hoping to get their James Rodriguez at the World Cup-sized moment. For the first time ever, the Copa América de Pueblos Indígenas will take place, running until July 25 in two Chilean cities. Eight teams – seven from South America and one from Mexico – will compete to win el trofeo del Pawkar Raymi, a golden espadrille cleat, which is as amazing as it sounds.
But the end goal for these often-overlooked players is to catch the attention of professional scouts. The tournament is almost entirely funded by Chile. “Indigenous culture is part of our identity,” Chile’s Foreign Minister Heraldo Muñoz said to Fusion. “This Copa America can make that aspect of our culture more visible, and also serve as a way to integrate indigenous communities within our countries.”
Colombia is serious about the competition and has recruited players from 10 different groups across their country. Ecuador did not have the support from the Federación Ecuatoriana de Fútbol, and they were not able to come up with as diverse a team. And because we don’t want to bum you out, there’s also the heartwarming story that Chile donated uniforms and shoes to the Peruvian team.
Meet the eight teams below:
Group A: Paraguay
Members from Guaraní Occidental, Avá Guaraní, Enlhet Norte, Enlhet Sur, Guaraní Nandeva, Aché and Nivaclé are part of the team.
Group A: Peru
The Shipibo-Konibo soccer team will represent for Peru.
Group B: Bolivia
Group B: Ecuador
The team was sent off with a purification ritual. One is from Puruhá, 12 are from Otavalo, and 5 are Cayambi.
Grupo B: Argentina
There are six different tribes represented.