Tuesday 20 February 2018, 13:24

Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires is one of South America’s largest capital cities. Its rich and multi-faceted history is reflected in its diverse architecture, exciting cultural scene, delicious cuisine and in the expressiveness of its inhabitants.

Uniquely, the city was founded not once, but twice: by Pedro de Mendoza in 1536 and Juan de Garay in 1580, a year in which its development began to take shape, thanks to port workers settling on the banks of the River Plate.

It was in the Cabildo, the site of Spain’s colonial administration in the city (which sits on the Plaza de Mayo and can still be visited today), that the country’s drive for independence from Spain began in 1810. That process would end in 1816 with the birth of Argentina as a state in its own right.

From that point on, Buenos Aires has been the focal point of the country’s economy, and its population grew as people from the provinces and immigrants flocked to it. The biggest influx of foreigners came between the end of the 19th century and the early decades of the 20th, with tens of thousands of them making the journey to the city from all over the world - the largest contingents hailing from Italy and Spain.

At street level, these myriad voices and beliefs mixed with those of the native Argentinians, helping to create a bustling, fascinating, and multicultural city, with a seductive charm of its own. It is a city that loves its music, whether it be tango, rock, reggaetón and cumbia; its food, from barbecued beef to pan pizza with lashings of mozzarella; its theatre and, of course, its football.

Futsal in Buenos Aires Argentina hosted its first official futsal match in 1986 when the Argentinian Football Association (AFA) decided to organise a men’s tournament. The discipline has been something of a religion in Buenos Aires for many decades, since shortly after its invention by the Uruguayan Juan Carlos Ceriani in 1930.

Futsal quickly crossed the River Plate and was embraced by a society that has developed, along with its love for 11-a-side football, a genuine passion for playing the indoor game and all its variations.

For many years, it was also played on a recreational basis by local neighbourhood clubs, and it has even provided a springboard for players, who would go on to become established football stars, among them Fernando Redondo, Juan Roman Riquelme, and Javier Saviola. The sight of groups of friends playing on the city’s many courts for hire is a common one, while women are now a growing presence on the scene, with mixed-gender matches and amateur women’s championships being organised.

The men’s AFA futsal tournament has harnessed that passion. With most of its teams hailing from Buenos Aires, it grew year on year following its creation and received the best possible boost when Argentina won the FIFA Futsal World Cup Colombia 2016. This year will see the inauguration of the Argentinian National Futsal League, which will feature several teams from Buenos Aires.

Featuring a first and a second division, the AFA’s women’s championship is comprised of 32 clubs, most of them from Buenos Aires and the surrounding areas.