Lessons outside the classroom: join a sports team in Chile

Clear your head and stay in shape with an afternoon game of pick-up.

Studying abroad in Chile gives you access to a world-class education and unique research opportunities in one of Latin America’s most technologically advanced countries… but many alums will agree that most of what you learn from your semester abroad will be taught outside the classroom.
If you’re getting ready to make the big leap for a semester abroad in Chile, we’ve gleaned tips from former students in every discipline to help you make the most of your time in South America.
First, we brought you Tip #1: Hiking and Trekking Clubs. Then came Tip #2: Academic and Research Opportunities, and Tip #3: Volunteer or Intern. This week, we take a look at cleats and courts in Chile, and the easiest way to join a local team near you.
Why Sports?
Just like making friends at home, joining a sports team is a good way to make new friends in a new city, and a great way to meet people outside your study abroad program in Chile.
Football
As the unofficial national sport in Chile (the official national sport is rodeo), nearly everyone’s a fan of football (or soccer for students hailing from the U.S.). You’ll be in good company if you’re looking to join a recreational team during your studies abroad.
A word from the wise – two of the country’s most successful professional teams bear the names of the country’s leading universities, Universidad Católica and Universidad de Chile, but there is no longer any relation between the school and the pro football team.
Both these schools and many more, however, do host intramural football teams for students. Check with your university’s student federation for more information about signing up.
Apart from the intramural teams, all major cities host a wealth of leagues for players of all abilities. Games are usually played on shorter fields, in a variation of the game known as “baby fútbol” here in Chile. Check about the turf before you show up for the game: some of these baby football fields are re-purposed basketball courts, meaning you should leave your cleats at home.

Leagues
Check out the Entreligas magazine for information about football leagues near you. The Liga Internacional is especially popular among foreigners, and for baby futbol, check out one of these Santiago leagues: Ciudad Deportiva Iván Zamorano, San Carlos, Complejo Deportivo SuperSoccer, or Complejo Deportivo Don Oscar.
Basketball, tennis and more
A relative newcomer on the sports scene in Chile, basketball is rapidly gaining ground among young people and throughout socio-economic classes – this U.S. sport is no longer the exclusive domain of the wealthy upper classes.
Finding an amateur league or team may be tricky, but arming your own local league only takes a few friends and some networking with players you meet on the court. Try playing at one of the well-trafficked courts like Parque Inés de Suarez in Providencia or Parque Araucano in Las Condes. Students in southern cities like Concepción and Puerto Montt will find an increasing number of indoor gyms as well, a perfect place to wait out the rainy winter.
Likewise, finding a good tennis partner shouldn’t be too hard in this South American nation, which has produced its fair share of ATP pros in recent decades. The best way to get in touch with the tennis community is through one of the semi-public tennis courts in your city. By speaking with the manager, you may be able to work out a deal to avoid signing up for a membership, and take advantage of the famous Chilean clay courts. Check out the courts at Ciudad Deportiva Iván Zamorano, or visit the official site of Tenis Chileno.