Monday 14 October 2019, 07:33

The 11-year-olds setting a Fair Play example

  • Fair play gesture between two Spanish U-12 players has gone viral

  • Luis and Camilo, invited to kick off a senior game, have become friends

  • “It's a lesson for all footballers,” says Camilo’s mother Diana

With a shared passion for football and a love of Real Madrid, 11-year-olds Luis and Camilo certainly have plenty in common. They differ, however, in that the former plays left-back for Zaragoza outfit UD San Jose, while the latter is a central midfielder for another of the city’s sides CD Ebro.

Their paths crossed during a match between their teams last month when Luis fired a powerful cross into the area for a team-mate to finish. Camilo, who went to block the cross, took the full force of the ball on his arm, resulting in his hospitalisation with a fractured ulna and radius and the disappointment of knowing it would be several months before he could play again.

Frustrating as it was for Camilo, the incident was not that unusual and just one of the many injuries you might see on a given weekend in the world of football. What happened next, however, was maybe not so common.

“When we got home, we were all thinking about him. It’s not that I felt guilty, as it wasn’t intentional, but I was worried,” Luis admitted. After talking it over with family, his mother Maria Teresa had an idea. “We didn't know if in the end he had suffered a break or if they’d had to operate on him, so we wanted to find out exactly what had happened and give him a little encouragement,” she said.

So, they decided to contact Camilo through his club. “We didn't even have his phone number, so we went the old-fashioned way, with a letter.” Along with the letter, they included a book especially chosen by Luis, called El Camino del Gol (The Path to Goal) by the YouTuber DJ MaRiiO.

The letter:

"Hello mate!

This is Luis here, the UD San Jose player who crossed ball that hit you on the arm. I hope your injury will heal soon so you can get your season underway as soon as possible.

If you show as much bravery as you did when defending that move for your team, then you're sure to recover quickly. In case you get a little bored, I'm sending you this book by DJ Mariio, which I hope you like.

Wishing you all the best

Louis 28"

“The club called him to give him the gift. Camilo was really moved and even shed a few tears,” said his mother Diana.

“I love to read and have read it now several times. It's very nice, because it’s a story that’s all about football,” Camilo explained.

CD Ebro went public about Luis's gesture of fair play, and the story soon went viral. “I'm sure a lot of people do things like that, even if it hasn't had such an impact,” Luis' mother said, playing down the act of sportsmanship. Yet for a few weeks after the story broke, it was a regular topic of conversation in Zaragoza, where both families live.

Camilo met Luis again when he was invited to visit by UD San Jose and both boys were later given the honour of taking the kick-off in a CD Ebro first-team game in Spain’s Segunda Division B. “I was really excited, and they also gave me a club shirt,” Luis said.

“We’re very proud to have a player who represents these football values,” said Alejandro Puyo, sporting director of UD San Jose. “Obviously, we’re trying to get our youngsters to the requisite level of tactical, technical, cognitive and physical development, but we understand that first and foremost it’s about the person. And when you are 9, 10 or 11, all that kids have to worry about is playing, having fun and learning.”

For now though, Camilo has to settle for watching his CD Ebro team-mates from the stands, although he cannot wait to start playing for them again in a few months. “I'm really looking forward to it,” he told us. Luis, meanwhile, continues to battle for his club side as they continue to search for an elusive first win of the season.

However, both youngsters have already achieved something much more important, as Diana concluded. “These two boys have given a lesson to all footballers.”