There are winds of tragedy in our sport, due to a devastating present and a past that flees leaving fragments of greatness unreturned. They went on a definitive Marcos trip piquito Hidalgo, my fraternal Vincentian and university student and colleague in journalism; and Raymond Marín, a swimmer in the good old days of the Olympic pool.

The three characters ended the celebration of the 2023 Bolivarian Games in Guayaquil, the city with the biggest loss of sporting power in the last 20 years. The Minister of Sports persists in the lie that he allocated 24 million dollars for the Games, although he never presented official documents. The pure story of a bureaucrat devoid of credibility, although he is supported in the lie by the president of the Bolivarian Sports Organization (Odebo), the Colombian Baltazar Medina, who claims to have seen 24 million dollars and intends to blame it on the temporary organizing committee. withdrawal of that adventure.

Medina is largely responsible for the farce, since he accepted that an organization outside Odeb and the Olympic movement (Fedeguayas) requested the Games, in violation of the statute, and processed the allocation of places without the guarantee of the central government and the Guayaquil Mayor’s Office. The Ecuadorian Olympic Committee (COE) was the only sports organization that behaved responsibly. For everyone else, the 2025 Games were just a lucrative business on the horizon.

Yesterday, the Clásico del Astillero had to play against Barcelona, ​​which is a team fiasco and Emelec, which, contrary to tradition, is crawling in the last places of one of the worst national championships in history. We lost the chance to advance to the quarterfinals of the U-20 World Cup in a very tense game, but the young Creoles have nothing to complain about.

Guayaquil saw its football hegemony disappear when in the 1960s it was accepted that provincial tournaments were abolished and a system of national competitions was adopted which tried to make local football lose its strength. Guayas has seen local teams disappear. North America, Homeland, Everest, October 9, Spain, Guayaquil League, Chacarita Juniors, Customs and Panama, among others, have become but a memory of bohemian nights. Some friends tell me that several of those clubs are still alive. They must be seeing ghosts or suffering from hallucinations. That may be true, but they will pass through minimal categories like tramps who “tell tales of better days,” as one corridor puts it.

One of those clubs that seems to have disappeared is the famous Panama Sporting Club, which was supposed to celebrate its hundredth anniversary in a few days. Maybe my dear friend Julio Molina Flores, the former president of the club, knows if his Panama, which cost him so much trouble, is there. Panama was founded in Guayaquil on June 25, 1923, in the house of that country’s consul, Ramón Vallarino, in front of Juan Montalvo Park, by children playing in nearby open fields on the northern border of the Astillero district.

The club’s name was a tribute to Vallarin for his hospitality, and he was named honorary president. In the same year, the first team was founded with John Birkett Hill in goal; César Arditto and Dantón Marriott in defense; Aníbal and Belisario González Villegas and Sucre Cando Marín in the middle line; and forward Gonzalo Cevallos, José Francisco Drouet (first president), Manuel Arenas Coello, Ramón Vallarino Jr. and Hugo Manrique. Their age was between 12 and 14 years.

Since its foundation, panamitos have played against other children’s teams at the Plaza del Progreso (today Parque Chile) and Atarazana fields. They gained fame by going undefeated in 20 games and no one doubted that a great team was being created.

In 1926, Panama requested entry into the Sports Federation of Guayas. There was opposition because, although the elegance and efficiency of the team was known, it was feared that, with the average age of the players being 16, they could not withstand the sharpness of experienced opponents. In 1927, he was included in the C series, which he generously won. In 1928, they defeated their opponents in the B division, and in 1929 they were already in the honors category. No one gave him a chance against experienced opponents, but he beat everyone except Racing Club, until he reached the final against the powerful General Córdoba led by Ramón Unamuno. All the media criticized the biased arbitration that led to the withdrawal of the Panamanians. The players were carried on their shoulders by fans “up to the electric curve”, as EL UNIVERSO said.

Since then, everything has been great for the unforgettable Panama. In 1931, he won the Janer Cup, and in 1933 he was again on the threshold of the championship. It had real stars, such as Ramón Unamuno, Efraín la Pantera Blanca Llona, ​​Romualdo Ronquillo, Porfirio Suárez, Ernesto Cuchucho Cevallos, Jorge Cholo Benítez, Manuel Manco Arenas, Nicolás Gato Álvarez, Fonfredes Bohórquez and Luis Zunino. That year, they achieved one of the loudest victories in the history of our football, defeating the undefeated Chilean champion Audax Italiano with 6:3, after a deficit of 2:0.

In 1934, Panama became the first Ecuadorian team to tour abroad. He was invited to Colombia, where he won nine games, drew one, lost another and received great praise. In 1938 and 1939, he was the champion of Guayaquil, captained by the best goalkeeper of Buenos Aires at the time, José Achocha Arosemen, and in competition with Euclides Suárez Rizzo, Luis Chocolatín Hungrí, José Merino, Alfonso Suárez Rizzo, Arturo Zambrano, Enrique Gorra de Paco Herrera, Fonfredes Bohórquez, Fernando Guzmán, Enrique Arias and Eloy Ronquillo.

In 1939, he made another triumphant tour of Colombia. He became champion again in 1941, and in 1943 the composition began to be renewed. In his Cadet School, the first young people appeared: Manuel Valle, Enrique Cantos, Jorge Cantos, Fausto Montalván and other young people who would later go to Barcelona to lead the bullfighters to idolatry. They were adequately mixed with the most experienced, such as the twins Luis Antonio and José Luis Mendoza and Enrique Maestro Raymondi.

On October 13, 1946, Panama became the first Ecuadorian team to defeat Millonarios de Bogotá – hired by Mendoza – at the Capwell Stadium.

When Barcelona took the Panamanian youth team, Dantón Marriott put new players who were 18 years old into the first team, including Alfredo Bonnard, Marcos Spencer, Isidro Matute, Gerardo Layedra, Ángel Zamora, Gal Pombara, Héctor Valle, Kléber Villa, Hugo Hidalgo , Federico Valdiviezo and many others. They were joined by the undisputed class of Marino Alcívar, the always remembered king of the half turn.

These players finished at Everest in late 1950, but Marriott again fielded a new team with Esteves, Suárez, Carrillo, the Jordán brothers and other young players. Panama was great, reaching 100 years in the shadows. (OR)