Chilean Club Italiano's unlikely success story
The former Chilean national team goalkeeper Felipe Barrientos is the man behind Club Italiano's successful years at Partille World Cup.
The story begins during the World Championship in Sweden, where Barrientos first heard about Partille World Cup, 2011.
– I heard it would be something extraordinary, he says.
In January of 2011, Chilean national team goalkeeper Felipe Barrientos traveles to Sweden and Gothenburg to participate in the Handball World Championship. Chile performs poorly during the tournament, returning home with only one point and a last-place finish in their group. However, the trip was not in vain. Along the way, the goalkeeper learns about Partille World Cup. A dream starts to take shape. Today, that dream has turned into 10 years of Chilean presence at Partille World Cup.
It is Partille World Cup 2023. Club Italiano G18 has just won their final group stage match and secured a spot in the playoffs. The team in the G15 category also advances from the group stage. A jubilant celebration breaks out on field 13 at Kviberg.
– We have prepared for an entire year and traveled for over 40 hours to come here and play. The girls are highly motivated. Getting past the group stage was just our first goal; now we want to win as many matches as we can. It feels incredibly amazing, says the team's coach, Rolando Amigo, with a wide smile on his face.
Back in Chile, with a newborn dream of strengthening Chilean youth handball, Barrientos starts working to bring Club Italiano to Gothenburg.
– I quickly got excited and dreamed of giving girls and boys from Chile the opportunity to experience Partille World Cup. Five months later, we were able to enjoy the world's best youth tournament, he says.
For Club Italiano, Partille World Cup is the most important tournament of the year by far. Moreover, it's an unforgettable experience for the young players who come here.
– Every other year, we come here with the girls' team, and every other year, we come with the boys' team. We visit all the schools in our province to scout the best players. This year's team is a champion back home. We prepare and work hard to raise funds throughout the year. It is worth it. The experiences we take from the Partille Cup are invaluable, both in terms of sports and the overall experience off the court, he says.
He played around 100 caps for the national team. Since 2021, Barrientos has retired as a professional goalkeeper. Today, he is the head coach of the Chilean women's national team, which qualified for a historic spot in the World Championship in Sweden, Denmark, and Norway in December.
– Partille Cup has not only positively impacted Club Italiano, but also Chilean youth handball as a whole. Many of the Chilean players participating in the latest World Championship have played in Partille World Cup over the years, he says.