Indigenous Focus: Copa ANPO 2012
On Wedensday, June 20th, Chile inaugurated the Copa ANPO (Asociación Nacional de Pueblos Originarios) 2012, which is the first ever National Soccer Championship Tournament for indigenous peoples in Chile. The event, which featured two games on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, will culminate in semi-finals and finals matches on Saturday and Sunday. The Copa ANPO 2012 kicked off in the national stadium where more than 100 athletes represented their pueblos.
The tournament is comrpised of six teams. Three teams come from the Mapuche people – the largest indigenous population in Chile. There is a Mapuche team, a Pewenche team (which is the term used for Mapuche populations living in the mountainous regions of Chile), and a Warriache team (comprised of Mapuche individuals from the city). In addition, there is one Aymara team, one Lican Antay (or Atacameño) team, and one Rapa Nui team.
The initial day of the tournament featured two games. First the Mapuche team played the Aymara team and won 2-0. Later that same day, the Rapa Nui team defeated the Lican Antay team 3-0. The Rapa Nui team is considered by many to be the favorites for the tournament as only three years ago they faced one of Chile’s most popular teams, Colo-Colo, for the Copa Chile in 2009.
The tournament began, however, with much more than soccer. One of the stated goals of the Copa ANPO is to help share indigenous culture with the rest of Chile. The idea is to take Chile’s love of soccer and use it to help teach people about indigenous peoples and the culture. To this end there were multiple events before the games began at the national stadium in Santiago. Among the festivities were various religious ceremonies and a demonstration of the game Palin, which is a traditional Mapuche game with some similarities to Lacrosse.
Many governmental officials turned out to watch the tournament unfold. Among them was the Director of the Planning Minestry, Joaquín Lavín, as well as various leaders from CONADI (Chile’s indigenous development corporation). Also in attendance was Nelson Colil, the head of ANPO who stated it was his dream to unite all the peoples of Chile through sports. It took him two years to get the tournament set-up, but said in the end he was “very happy to be around such a beautful event.”