Near every village or beach, no matter how remote, there is a football pitch like this one in Chã de Manuel Santos, which can be seen in the photograph. The village is located at the end of the Paúl valley, at the foot of the Cova volcanic crater on the second largest island of the Atlantic archipelago. It is the greenest and most fertile valley of the Cape Verde Islands. The slopes are terraced and sugar cane, bananas, coffee and maize form the livelihood of the inhabitants. In the late afternoon, flip-flops are exchanged for football boots, fancy jerseys are put on, some boys and girls also play barefoot.
Many dream of a career as a professional footballer in Europe or Brazil. Despite the increasing tourism, taking on extra jobs is often the only way to support a family financially. I was impressed by a boy I encountered in the Paúl Valley. He lugged a bundle of sugar cane on his shoulder and was walking down the steep path from the plantation to the village. He was imitating a radio reporter and commenting loudly on a past football match, perhaps a Benfica Lisbon match, where many Cape Verdeans or Portuguese with Cape Verdean roots play in the professional league. Or maybe it was the international match against Portugal, which the former Portuguese colony sensationally won two to nil in 2015.