In Colombia’s capital, two football teams split the city’s allegiance. But with a little bit of teamwork, two opposing fans show how friendship and respect can win out.
Jose Richard and Cesar Daza should be arch rivals. They passionately support Bogota’s two opposing football teams. Daza is a fan of Santa Fe, and Richard is a lifelong supporter of Millonarios.
“Unfortunately in Colombian stadiums and around the world we see aggressive behaviors, violence, and even deaths because of the color of a jersey,” Daza said.
But the same passion that drives others apart is what united these two friends; the love of football. Watching a game is difficult for Richard. He was born with a progressive genetic disorder that’s now left him blind and deaf. Daza first met Richard as a volunteer guide – to help him enjoy games. But the bond they’ve formed runs deep. Daza describes what is happening on the field through signs that are played out on a board, which the two friends designed together.
Richard said he’s taught Daza some things and Daza has done the same.
You might think this could simply be done in front of a TV set, but Richard said he prefers being at the field – enjoying a game with all his senses.
“When I am in a stadium, I feel everything through the board; it is like I can hear the screams through the board, the people’s energy and emotions,” Richard said.
Richard’s passion is contagious and even during a tense “clasico,” where Santa Fe and Millonarios face off, Daza can’t help but feel happy for his friend when the opposing team scores a goal.
Daza thinks Richard gets even more emotional than the people who are living it in the stadium. He’s seen him get animated and stressed when there is a corner kick or a penalty is lost. He loves to see him react.
Their relationship has drawn national attention, and they’ve even been tapped by Bogota’s mayor’s office to lead an anti-violence campaign in and around stadiums.
“We realized this was a call for tolerance and peace in stadiums, that I can serve my companion even though we are from different teams. If he has a triumph, I have to celebrate it, because we must celebrate the wins of others. That is the message we want to share,” Daza said.