Hoping for funds

In the chilly and blustery Punta Arenas, four youthful athletes are diligently getting ready to proudly represent the Chilean team at the World Skate Games 2024, scheduled to take place in Italy from August to September. Among them are Pablo Salvo Toledo and Milena Monsalve Aguila, hailing from Magallanes and proudly donning the national team colors. Their journeys are characterized by unwavering passion, relentless sacrifice, and an ongoing battle to secure the essential resources needed to turn their dream of representing their nation and region on the international stage into a reality.

The brothers, who have dedicated themselves to the sport, are eager to showcase their skills on an international stage. Despite their unwavering determination, the lack of funding poses a formidable challenge to their participation in the prestigious tournament. Without the necessary financial support, their chances of competing in the Latam Cup are in jeopardy.

The beginnings in sport

Pablo Salvo embarked on his sporting journey in hockey at the age of 18, a path that began unexpectedly seven years prior. He vividly remembers accompanying his mother’s partner to a court in the Free Trade Zone, where he first tried ice skating and found his passion. Despite initially playing as a field player, a shortage of goalkeepers in his team prompted him to explore the role under the three sticks.

Right from the beginning, Milena set her sights on becoming a goalkeeper. The thrill of the adrenaline rush that came with blocking pucks hurtling towards the goal at high speeds captivated her. This intense and challenging position on the ice appealed to her competitive nature and drove her to excel in her chosen role.

From a young age, Alonso Matus, who is now 20 years old, has participated in a range of sports, such as soccer, basketball, and tennis. Yet, it was at the age of 7 that he first delved into the world of ice skating, driven by the support and motivation of his parents. It wasn’t until 2014 that he made the decision to pursue training as a player in both ice and roller hockey.

At the age of 17, Lucas Matus, Alonso’s brother, delved into the realm of tennis early on, much like his sibling. Nevertheless, with the establishment of the Kotaix hockey club in 2014, he redirected his efforts towards ice hockey and roller hockey training within the club. This adherence to a family tradition has not only shaped his athletic pursuits but has also afforded him the opportunity to showcase his skills on behalf of Chile.

The journey to being picked

The journey to becoming part of the national team was a memorable and life-changing experience for these four aspiring athletes. Pablo Salvo describes the process of connecting with the national team coach through social media and subsequently being chosen to participate in the training camps. “Representing my country at the national level has always been a dream of mine. Being able to train and compete alongside other talented players has been an incredible opportunity,” he expresses his gratitude for the chance to be a part of the national team.

In a similar fashion, Milena found herself in a situation where she signed up for the microcycles preceding the tournament. Despite her brief tenure in hockey, she was overjoyed to have made the cut.

The selection process, with its rollercoaster of emotions and obstacles, serves as a source of joy for Alonso and Lucas. Nevertheless, it is their long-standing devotion to the sport that truly sets them apart. From a young age, they have poured their hearts and souls into honing their skills, a journey that has been guided and supported by their parents, who beam with pride at the sight of their children’s achievements.

However, the journey has been filled with challenges. The training conditions in the area are far from ideal, with extreme precarity. The sole ice rink available is located in Ushuaia, Argentina, which presents significant costs and logistical hurdles. Alonso elaborates that in Punta Arenas, they are limited to just one hour of ice time per week, forcing them to resort to training on the streets or on a makeshift roller rink to maintain their fitness levels.

Pride and challenges

The families find themselves torn between feeling proud of their young ones’ achievements and being anxious about the financial burden that accompanies this endeavor.

While Pablo’s mother sees the opportunity as a chance for growth and development, Milena’s mother focuses on the challenges and sacrifices that come with it. It is evident that both mothers have valid points to consider when evaluating the situation. The balance between seizing opportunities and managing the associated responsibilities is crucial in making informed decisions.

The mother’s plea for help underscores the importance of creating a conducive environment for the Matus brothers to pursue their athletic endeavors. The Kotaix club’s endeavors to develop the ice rinks are crucial in meeting this objective, yet the current level of support falls short of what is required. It is essential for the community to rally behind these projects to ensure that the boys have the necessary resources to thrive in their sporting pursuits.

The individual expressed that sports serve as an investment in the younger generation and the future of the community. It is their aspiration that a greater number of individuals will come forward to support their endeavors and assist in showcasing the talents of these young athletes on a global platform.

The fight for funds

Participation in these competitions requires not only dedication and talent, but also substantial financial resources. Those who are chosen must cover the costs of their equipment, which must be certified, as well as uniforms and travel expenses. The president of the Kotaix hockey club states, “Each player needs specific sticks that cost around 150 dollars ($138,000) each, and imports increase costs even further.”

The support provided by Team Chile has been instrumental in covering the registration costs, but additional resources are required to meet the needs of the families and the club. Efforts are being made to secure sponsors and donations, with a particular focus on obtaining funding for facilities, team apparel, and event tickets. The urgency of the situation is emphasized by the limited time available to secure the necessary resources.

The selected players and their families are seeking support from the community and local authorities. Pablo Salvo’s mother mentioned, “We have requested assistance from the mayor and the President, highlighting the fact that these young individuals are showcasing the name of Chile globally.” Additionally, the sports club is pushing for enhanced training amenities. The club president expressed, “We are in need of a suitable and easily accessible ice rinks. At the moment, we are dependent on the Costanera center, which proves to be challenging during certain times of the year.”

The Kotaix Hockey Club has set up a donation system through the BancoEstado account, with the rut 65.090.766-3 and the view account number 91970918006. This initiative aims to provide the selected members with the essential resources they need to represent the club in the best possible way, both within the region and throughout the country.