World Cup fever. Four friends and their epic six-month journey to Qatar

World Cup fever.  Four friends and their epic six-month journey to Qatar

They met through a mutual friend, found out that they shared an adventurous spirit, went on some trips together and started dreaming about a project: Travel 10,500 km by bike from South Africa to Qatar to encourage National Choice in the world Cup.

To achieve this, they started on May 15 from Cape Town to Doha, and for six months, the four friends from Cordoba will cross 15 countries on the African continent and Asia to arrive a few days before the opening match. At the time of closing this note, they were in Kasane (Botswana), a border town with Namibia and Zambia, having traveled about 3000 km.

Lucas Ledesma (34 years old) is a physical education teacher. Silvio Gatti (32) has a degree in Tourism, Leandro Blanco Pighi (31) has a degree in Social Communication and Sebastian Rodriguez (43) is an audiovisual creator. After many months of planning, which led them to investigate what was happening in each country, they designed a detailed roadmap.

They travel about 130 kilometers per day and seize the opportunity to enjoy close encounters with animals

We feel we’ve come to Qatar well, and we’re putting a lot of energy into it. There are days when we pedal up to 130 kilometres. We started in Cape Town, then stopped to pass through Namibia, where we crossed the desert, the difficult middle part, then went to Botswana, which we crossed by the A3 to Nata, and then took the A33 to Kasane, where we are now in the far northwest. In a few days we have already crossed into Zambia. We are doing some work for the documentary in Chobe National Park. Our room directly overlooks the river, so we have great days with great sunsets,” says Leandro Blanco Pighi, one of the four adventurers. “The most we have left are the people who greet us in an incredible way. We are starting to notice that in Namibia and in Botswana it is getting stronger. Every time we enter a town, dressed as Argentina and with a ball, a revolution occurs. Especially the kids who come out to greet us and then when we say goodbye they run behind us smiling to welcome us. We played a football match in every city.”

And despite leaving without tickets, they are on the move hoping to see every game the national team has played since its debut, on November 22 against Saudi Arabia at Lusail Stadium.

They still don't have tickets, but they don't give up on watching the Argentina national team matches
They still don’t have tickets, but they don’t give up on watching the Argentina national team matches

I’m looking for tickets

They know what they’re talking about. One of its members, Lucas Ledesma, has previous experience with this type of crossing. In 2014, he biked to Brazil for the World Cup, and in 2018 he did the same to go to Russia, in addition to other sporting events he rode on, such as the Olympics in Brazil and the Copa America in Chile.

“We are very much in control of the World Cup, even after watching the last matches, Scaloneta and Lionel scolded the last 5 goals. On the way we saw elephants, giraffes, zebras and antelopes. Now we are going to cross into Zambia, we will see Victoria Falls which is the highest in the world. Riding around Africa is crazy. Every day surprises us in a different wayLeandro continues.

In every village they visit, they play with the boys.
In every village they visit, they play with the boys.

“We still don’t have tickets, but like Lucas in other World Cups, when people find out we’re doing this crazy thing, they always come to lend a hand and we have this hope that we can get into the matches in Argentina,” says Silvio Gatti.

They will continue to Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda, where they will take a journey past the conflict zone and into Egypt, and from there they will cycle back on the last leg of the journey through the Middle East through Jordan, Israel, Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia and all the way to Qatar. Aside from the pedal, Sebastian Rodriguez is responsible for selecting the best shots and best places to create the scenes that will be part of a documentary that seeks to reflect the different stories and experiences they will have during these six months of travel. . And although the original idea was to go back to Cordoba, where they came from, once the World Cup is over, some of its members already have plans to continue traveling and continue to cycle around the world.

They have already covered more than 3000 km: they crossed South Africa, Namibia and Botswana
They have already covered more than 3000 km: they crossed South Africa, Namibia and Botswana

The trek has a useful purpose as well, as every kilometer traveled will be replaced by a tree for the Cordoba Mountains.

What are the biggest difficulties you encountered when assembling the track?

– In principle, little information is available on Africa. It was very difficult for us to find accurate information about the condition of the roads, about the shape of the cities; About what we can achieve in each section, if the trails are sand, dirt or asphalt or if the road is in the middle of a nature park that we can’t get into with bikes or if it’s an open road without restrictions.

How was the physical preparation?

– It was very difficult, but in fact the most difficult thing was the administrative and logistical planning, since we do not have the best tools to finance a trip with these characteristics. Our physical worries are the least of ours because we are all used to traveling, forever attached to sports.

“The most we have left are the people who greet us in an unbelievable way,” they tell us about their adventure

– How do you finance the trip?

– The trip is funded by different sponsors who will accompany us on this trip. The main ones are the municipality of Córdoba, then different brands such as Venzo, Halawa, Trevo, Wake Up, March or Ziroox. We also run collaborations through apps like Cafecito or Matecito and we live a lot through our community on Instagram (todoapedal) and social networks. A lot of people who deal with us at the bank and support us deposit money with us.

Where do you stay during the trip?

– At several points we have already managed a place to stay, and at many other times where the night is controlling us. In some places we sleep in a tent, in other places we try to find accommodation in a village or wherever we can. We carry all the camping items, tents, sleeping bags, thermal insulation and cooking items that give us independence in camp.

What is their charitable purpose?

– We work with a carob factory in Cordoba called Baum, the goal is to improve the situation in the mountains because of the deforestation that has occurred, fires, etc. On the day we arrive in Qatar, we will do a detailed count of the number of kilometers we pedal, and that same number of kilometers will translate into trees. We hope to raise funds through donations.

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