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Shall we play ?: football's 'Tinder' is back and dribbles the pandemic


It was born in 2008 for foreigners to meet on a court. With the enabling of certain outdoor sports, more and more Argentines are joining.

Nahuel Gallotta

06/19/2021 15:09

  • Clarí

  • Society

Updated 06/19/2021 3:10 PM

"Do you know something?", "Do you have news?", "Do you know when we will return?", Were the messages that arrived daily on Anne Van Beusekom's cell phone (31) during a good part of the quarantine.

In particular,

on Fridays of announcements

of new restrictive measures.

Van Beusekom is not a civil servant, nor is she an employee of the Ministry of Health, nor is she a government spokesperson.

She is from Guatemala, lives in Palermo and is dedicated to

organizing soccer matches

: she is the founder of BAFA, an application that coordinates matches between players who do not have nine more friends willing to play and rent a field. 

"There was a need to be active, and a great expectation to play again," he says.

"We shared stickers that said 'That we need everything except football' and things like that. As in the beginning only the practice of activities in squares was enabled, we

organized football training

. The call was important, although it was not the same as a match". 

The football 5 matches had been cut on March 19, 2020, when Alberto Fernández decreed the Preventive and Mandatory Social Isolation (ASPO).

Just in mid-June, Horacio Rodríguez Larreta reported that "sports activities of up to 10 people will be allowed, always outdoors, with and without contact. And the clubs and gyms will be able to carry out their activities only outside."

Arturo (in orange) and Arnold (in light blue), a Peruvian and a Frenchman who meet to play soccer in Costa Salguero.

Photo Emmanuel Fernández

The players began to return.

Although little by little.

The fears persisted, there was no news about the vaccine and the shifts on the fields were not fully occupied as before.

With the increase in cases, and the new restrictions,

football was suspended again


He came back in November, and the same.

The last permit to play, always outdoors, and for up to 10 players, came out on June 11.

It will remain until June 25, when the new announcements will be known.


Every lap was exciting.

We already play 18 games a week. Ten less than before the pandemic," adds Anne.   

Today, BAFA organizes 18 games a week, 10 fewer than before the pandemic.

Photo Emmanuel Fernández

Arnold Sontag (33) has just finished his match on one of the courts of the Costa Salguero Complex.

He is an engineer and French.

Ten years ago, he lived in Lyon, his city, where he was pursuing his career.

He came to Buenos Aires for an exchange of studies, without the slightest idea that he would stay.

He met an Argentine, fell in love and only returned to France for six months to graduate.

Or for vacations, but already as a family. 

The only thing he did as a sporting activity was go jogging.

In Argentina, a Canadian friend of his wife told him about the application.

It was four years ago.

I had never played soccer before.

Now he says he can't put it down.

"During the pandemic I dreamed of soccer. It is key for me. More than anything, to relieve the tensions of my work. Since I played soccer, I stopped running. And what I like about the application is that it is a calm atmosphere. I had the opportunity to play games with Argentines that I met and they are very competitive. I felt the tension. Here at BAFA if there is a clash, it is from Argentines. Although they are the least, "he says.

Arnold is a French engineer.

Soccer helps him release the tensions of his work.

Photo Emmanuel Fernández

BAFA was born without being BAFA on a field in San Telmo.

The idea came from an American and an Englishman.

Or more than an idea, it

was a necessity

: they lived in the city of Buenos Aires, they wanted to play a soccer game and they didn't know eight more players to complete two teams and rent a field.

One night in 2008, at a meeting, they proposed to everyone present (foreigners like them) to broadcast a kind of chain.

They had to ask their neighbors, colleagues from work, residence or studies,

if they wanted to play a game


The answer surprised them very much.

First, by how quickly they completed the list of players.

Second, because of the number of people who were in the same situation: foreigners living in Buenos Aires, wanting to play games and without friends or acquaintances to do so.

Over time, they kept in touch through Gmail.

They kept playing.

Ten years later, that is, in 2018, the project was formalized: it

was baptized as BAFA

, it organized 30 weekly matches (pre-pandemic) and completed a list of more than 300 stable players, from 90 different countries.

Only 30% were Argentine.

The slogan is “

Play soccer games with an international community.

An easy and flexible way to play ”.

In addition to organizing parties, they became the excuse to unite friends and even couples.

More also: it is common for foreigners who lived in Buenos Aires and shared soccer matches to

be found in other countries


"They get together to have a drink or to play football. And they help each other a lot with residences, papers. They may receive them at home during the first days," adds Anne.  

More and more Argentines join the BAFA parties.

Photo Emmanuel Fernández

Anne Van Beusekom makes the difference between the Argentines of BAFA before and after the pandemic: "Before, the Argentinian's profile was the one from the interior who came to work or study, the one who had gotten tired of suspending games because of friends who were absent at the last minute, and the shy ones, who had a hard time making friends.

Now the percentage of Argentines has grown a lot

. "

The new profile is not individual, as before.

It is in a group: they arrive in 2, 3 or even 5. They are friends who had their group to play with, but because of the pandemic and the care,

it is impossible for them to complete two teams

(the rest prefer to wait to return to football ).

Peru, in the match that just ended, was represented by Arturo Rodríguez (29).

He is from Lima and he was 6 years old in Buenos Aires.

In his country, he studied Advertising and Photography.

Here, he takes nuclear engineering.

He came to BAFA out of the need to play again.

Arturo arrived from Lima and studies nuclear engineering.

He says that football changed his mood.

Photo Emmanuel Fernández

"A few months ago it was impossible to reunite my friends. Several were parents and preferred to wait a bit to play again. As I suffer from moderate anxiety, and if I don't do sports or physical activity I feel an emotional drop, I signed up. I also needed the competition. The confinement was terrible.

Football changed my mood,

"he says.

Now, that little by little life begins to return to normal, and vaccination is already approaching for those in their 30s and 40s, they play two games a week.

One with his friends, who returned.

Another at BAFA.

If a player is missing in the next game, he stays and plays.

Finally, talk about what Anne says happens to Argentines in the beginning.

Although little by little, the trend is disappearing: "Playing with strangers is a prejudice for Argentines. In Peru, you sit down to watch a game in a square and the players will invite you to join in. Even if they don't know you.

It's a good opportunity to make friends

. "


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Source: clarin

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