Soccer / history
The miracle of Cobresal
El Salvador, Chile Only in the Atacama region, the driest in the world, there is a unique phenomenon: the flowery desert. It can be a long time without it happening, until one day suddenly, from the dry land flowers are born ... thousands of flowers. They say it is a miracle. At more than 2,600 meters altitude, in the driest place on earth and in the middle of nowhere begins the story of a football team that became an oasis in the middle of the desert. This is the story of the Miracle of Cobresal. In the mid-fifties in the Atacama desert in Chile, a deposit rich in copper was discovered. To extract the valuable mineral, it was necessary to create a city of workers, which they called El Salvador. To say that this city is in the middle of nowhere is to fall short. You have to go on a journey of almost 3 hours by car through the desert to get to El Salvador. The reality is that there is nothing interesting to do in the city. A cinema that only broadcasts a movie, a restaurant, an empty square. It is clear that El Salvador is not the place for which players sigh. This happens since 1979, the year in which Cobresal was born, rather than as a football team, as an excuse to have something to do. Professional football was brought to El Salvador to give people something to do and to distract families. In January 2015 a new season began. As throughout its history Cobresal, a team that has never held a title, is very clear about its goal: not to descend. With that idea they started a new tournament. But on this occasion there was something different, some changes were made and a new Cobresal began to be seen. The truth is that the team was well armed. They spent the first 8 games of the Chilean tournament and Cobresal, a team used to live in the bottom of the table, gives the great surprise and is positioned as leader of the championship. In a place where nothing happens like El Salvador, when the surprisingly leader of the Chilean first division plays at home, it would be normal for the stadium to fill up to see its brand new heroes. Nothing more than reality. The truth is that 60 or 70 tickets are sold in the Cobresal stadium per game. El Salvador has a stadium of 20,000 people, but has a population of 7,000 inhabitants. Even if the whole city went, the stadium would not even reach half of its capacity. El Cobre Stadium (El Salvador, Chile) A small, remote team, without swelling or history; all were clear: in the next game they fall. And that next was nothing more and nothing less than his first big challenge of the season. They had to visit the stadium of one of the most powerful clubs in Chile: Universidad Católica. The players and fans of the Cobresal only hoped to avoid such a bulky defeat. To avoid the scoring the plan was clear: defend orderly and go on the counterattack. But an unexpected goal scorer became the nightmare of the defense of the Universidad Católica and the result was that the Cobresal took a deserved victory of 3-1 of Santiago de Chile. From that day the staff set in motion a ritual that they would no longer abandon and that after each game they sang the song "Mami, que sera lo que quiere el negro" by Wilfrido Vargas. The final stretch of the championship is approaching and it is when the costumes of the Cobresal began to understand that if it was possible to be champions, that it was a reality. Suddenly, in one of the driest corners of the planet, the sky opens wide. For everyone it was nice the first day to have rain in El Salvador, something they were not used to seeing. But as the days went by, that amazement became concern. They dropped in 8 hours the amount of water that should fall in 3 or 4 years. They began to gather the waters of the entire high mountain range and began to run the mud. The avalanches swept everything in its path. Source After two days of rain and destruction the list of deceased amounts to 31 people, 49 missing and 600 victims. The houses simply disappeared under the mud, just like the cars. It seemed that an atomic bomb had exploded in the area. Without reaching the level of destruction of its neighbors, life in El Salvador became increasingly difficult. The population had absolutely no water. And this chaos did not stop affecting the staff of the Cobresal, who were forced to evict the city with their families and move to a hotel in Santiago de Chile. At first the players felt a great emotion to be able to be in the capital and to go out to do different activities. But the days were passing and what was at first a novelty, is transformed into confinement. The life of the players in the hotel became a routine full of schedules for everything and without freedom. And in that atmosphere of closure and 5 dates from the end, Cobresal would have to defend in leadership against his main pursuer: Colo Colo, the team with the most titles in the history of Chilean football. Everyone thought that Cobresal would arrive beaten to the match after everything they had had to happen, but it was not like that. Cobresal went on to represent the yearnings and hopes of the people of the Atacama region. Cobresal won an important 1-2 victory against Colo Colo as a visitor and it was impossible not to think about being champions. Source In the absence of 2 dates for the final the team is still concentrated in Santiago, but if they win their next game they could be champions. Despite the fact that after the tragedy the intention was that Cobresal played all their matches in Santiago, they could not miss their last home match to show that El Salvador was alive, they wanted to be champions at home and with their people. Everyone wants to play at home the decisive game. The problem is that neither the city nor the stadium has yet recovered from the storm. The grass was drying, since it was almost a month without water. And the truth is that watering the football field of a city without water does not seem like a good idea, unless the team is playing the championship. They took 3 trucks of water daily from more than 200 kilometers away to be able to water the stadium. Every day 50,000 liters of water arrived thanks to a fan of the club that owned the trucks. The majority of the inhabitants obviously got angry because they did not have water and the club was literally throwing it to the ground. So the solution was to water at night, in secret, with the lights of the stadium turned off so that no one would notice. What was once a dry lawn, is ready to host the most important game in the history of the club. That day 4,000 people were in the stadium, practically the whole city came to see his team. To be champions, Cobresal had to win his match and hope that Universidad Católica did not win his. The two matches were played simultaneously. Cobresal expected an easy match as they faced Barnechea, the last team in the table. But they did not expect that those teams that have nothing to lose sometimes end up giving the bell. The truth is that that day Barnechea was passing over the Cobresal. In addition, the news that came from the other party could not be worse. While Cobresal lost 1-2 in 45 minutes before a team descended, Universidad Católica scored 3-0. If everything that has happened so far with this club is difficult to explain, what would happen next was practically impossible. The second half begins in both games and from Santiago comes encouraging news. Universidad Católica, which won 3-0 at halftime, had not been able to prevent its rival from going up to tie the score 3-3. Once aware of the other result, in El Salvador began to reach the goals of the Cobresal and achieve a 2-2 draw. They only needed one more goal to be crowned champions. It is then when the magical moment happens, a simultaneous penalty is produced in both parties. On the one hand, Catholic University has the opportunity to win its game; on the other, Cobresal has a penalty in his favor to win the championship. And while in Santiago de Chile they see how Universidad Católica incredibly fails their penalty, in El Salvador they all pray that Cobresal can convert that decisive penalty into a goal in the difficult and dramatic match they have had to live. And the miracle came ... the ball ended at the bottom of the net unleashing the madness of everyone in the Atacama region. It was as well as in the middle of nowhere, in a city where nothing ever happens, Cobresal was crowned champion of Chilean football for the first time in its history. Source It gives a bit of laughter because not even the Chilean Football Federation believed in them. They had nothing prepared for the celebration of the championship, they never thought they could be champions there. They had to improvise with a small plastic table where they placed the cup. This was undoubtedly a special championship for the place, for the team, for everything they had to live, for how difficult it was, because it was impossible, because it was a miracle. The truth is that there is an economic reality for which clubs like Cobresal can not compete. For the simple fact of leaving champions their players were quoted and wanted to charge as champions. Many players left and the team was resentful. To day of Cobresal it returned to be the one of always, a modest equipment that fights for not descending. But it may not be the descent the worst threat facing the team, because the truth is that El Salvador as a mining site is running out and will not give for many more years. Source It only occurs in the Atacama Desert, a phenomenon known as the flowery desert and only when the spring follows the rain. Asking for those flowers in the desert offers the same response as remembering that Cobresal was a champion ... it's a miracle.