What do World Health Day and the International day of Sports for Development and Peace have in common? Well in Colombia, they’re both tied to soccer.
And by that we mean that many organizations worldwide have used soccer to get kids moving as physical activity can help reduce the chance of diabetes, which is this year’s main topic for World Health Day. But in Colombia they’re also using soccer to promote peace and social development.
One such project was Give To Colombia’s and Fútbol con Corazon’s “Uniendo Lazos con el Futbol” (or in English “Uniting Social Ties Through Soccer”) which promoted gender equality by integrating girls in a soccer program in Barranquilla, Colombia along with the boys.
Though the initial goal was to impact 90 girls, 105 girls joined the initiative. In addition to the sports component where they implemented the “Fútbol for peace” methodology, trained the girls, and provided them with uniform and meals, the project also focused on teaching values such as tolerance and leadership through weekly workshops and community activities on the weekends.
As the girls came in with nutrition and family issues, the project created an approach that provided them with supplements, personalized attention, therapies with psychologists, and even involved parents in the process all with the goal of achieving a long lasting impact.
In the end, not only did these young girls overcome the challenges as their health improved and they built-up their self-esteem, they also became roles models for those to come. Eight of these girls went on to enter the National League of Fútbol with Fútbol con Corazon in the 14 to 15 category, making them the first team with girls in the competition.