The Mushuc Runa Soccer Club has made history not only for the indigenous community that it represents but also for the country of Ecuador as a whole.1 This indigenous team has ascended to the A division, the highest level of Ecuadorian professional soccer. Mushuc Runa, whose name means “New Man” in Quechua, has been rapidly growing since its founding in 2002. What started out as an amateur team now will compete against the best of Ecuadorian footballers.
Mushuc Runa played their first A game on February 16 against former Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana champions, Liga de Quito. The game ended in a 0-0 tie, a score that did not discourage the team. The team’s journey to the professional league began in 2005 and just nine years later it is already one of the most successful teams in the nation.
Over 300 fans travelled from great distances to see the team play its premiere game in the top division. Mushuc Runa fans came from various different indigenous communities to support not only their team but also one another. Fan Josefina Hualo told BBC Mundo “Mushuc Runa represents our culture and because of this, I support them in good times and bad. It is exciting to see them play against the older and more important teams of Ecuador.”1
The team is sponsored by the Cooperativa de Ahorro y Crédito Mushuc Runa (Mushuc Runa Cooperative of Savings and Credit), an indigenous-created financial company. Although many of the business partners are indigenous, the team only has two indigenous players in the A selection. The president of Mushuc Runa, Luis Chango, hopes to use the financial support of their sponsor in order to foster a younger division of the team. In an interview with HOY he explained that the lack of indigenous players on the professional team is due to a lack of training resources for aspiring indigenous players.2 He lamented that he himself had wished to attend soccer school as a child, but due to a lack of roads in his community, he could not attend. The Mushuc Runa school gives indigenous children access to soccer education in the hopes that one day the team will be comprised of more native-heritage footballers.
Those who currently play for Mushuc Runa express pride in the fact that they play for this history-making team. Forward Víctor Macías told BBC Mundo, “Not only on the level of Ecuador, but also on an international level, Mushuc Runa is being noticed for being an indigenous team. For me it is a beautiful thing to be part of this history."1
Chango also expressed that he hopes to have a social impact in Ecuador. He stated, “This project is not based only on soccer or on having a stadium or on selling publicity. Hand in hand with soccer, and using it as a medium, we want to cause a great social impact in Ecuador and we are doing it.” When asked how the team is doing this he responded, “It consists of demonstrating that the indigenous population can be included in all spaces of society. In the financial, political, cultural, we have already have won spaces, but we have not penetrated sport.”2 With their ascent into the A league, Mushuc Runa has certainly begun to introduce indigenous communities to this new territory.
1) Mena Erazo, Paúl. “El equipo indígena que enfrenta a grandes del fútbol de Ecuador.” BBC Mundo. BBC, 17 Feb. 2014. Web. 19 Feb. 2014.
2) “Luis Chango: En 7 años, vamos a tener jugadores indígenas en la A.” Diario HOY. Diario Hoy. 25 Jan. 2014. Web. 19 Feb. 2014.