Developing Athletes, Forming Leaders: After-School Kids Soccer Program
Project Launch:In 2007, Orlando Flores, a resident of El Tular, El Salvador and a former professional soccer player, started a few soccer teams for kids in the community. Orlando taught the kids the basics of soccer and good sportsmanship practices as well as life skills such as good money management and leadership. However, due to a lack of proper sports equipment, the teams were unable to compete in games and tournaments with neighboring communities. A $474 grant from World Connect’s Kids to Kids program in 2009 allowed Orlando to work with a Peace Corps Volunteer to purchase equipment needed to run the teams. Like many communities in El Salvador, El Tular suffers from a lack of fun and healthy after-school activities. Organized soccer teams provide kids with safe, healthy, and educational activities that contribute to their emotional and psychological development. Community youth now have something positive and constructive to do after school. Instead of wandering the community; many kids now go to the soccer field to either practice or watch from the sidelines. In addition, the project is supported by the broader community. At the first tournament many parents and community members showed up and a group of women donated food to make sandwiches for the kids at the tournament. Parents are also giving permission for their daughters to play soccer when before, girls hardly participated in any form of sports. In evaluating the project, the Peace Corps Volunteer highlighted the story of one little boy who started the program fighting with his teammates constantly on the field and who is now the team captain and a leader, demonstrating good sportsmanship to his peers.
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