Youth competitors from both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border and Argentina will come together Saturday, June 1, to compete in the sixth annual International Friendship Games.
The event hosted annually by Chula Vista Councilman Rudy Ramirez is an effort to promote cross-border relations.
“The purpose of the games is to bring communities together and essentially foster more of that intercultural communication,” said Alejandro Renteria, a staff member for Ramirez who attended the event last year.
More than 1,500 young competitors ages 5 to 17 will participate in either track and field, soccer, baseball, softball, basketball or a battle of the bands.
A cross-border bike ride is also planned for adults. Renteria said he is expecting about 200 cyclists to compete.
Renteria said this is the first year students from Argentina are participating in the games.
Renteria said the games could get pretty heated, but ultimately they end friendly.
“Both nations bring their sense of competitiveness,” Renteria said. “But beyond the competitive nature of the games,
it brings something more to it, the grandeur of having those ever- lasting friendships.”
Renteria said Tijuana and Mexico’s sporting leagues decide which students will get to compete at the International Friendship Games.
The athletes don’t play for nothing. The winners of the Olympic-style tournaments win trophies or medals.
Renteria said students coming from across the border are granted a one-day visa with the approval of the Border Patrol. The students have to be transported to Mater Dei High School in Otay Mesa, and from Mater Dei back to the border, facilitated by buses.
Most of the sporting events will be played at Mater Dei High School, located at 1615 Mater Dei Drive in Chula Vista, while the soccer tournament is played at the Arco Olympic Training Center, located at 2800 Olympic Parkway in Chula Vista.
The sporting events start at 8 a.m. and are scheduled to end at 5 p.m.