In partnership with the Fundación del Empresariado Chihuahuense, the UEFA Foundation for Children has been offering Mexican children in the state of Chihuahua access to afterschool activities in order to improve their physical and social well-being.
Poverty and poor diet are intrinsically linked, unfortunately. In the Mexican state of Chihuahua, a significant percentage of 5 to 14 year-olds are in need of greater access to education.
According to statistics produced by CONEVAL, the national social development board, half of children and teenagers have not engaged in any physical activity during the past 12 months. Meanwhile, almost a third of the state’s population are illiterate and do not finish elementary or secondary school.
Important life skills
Since the start of 2020, the UEFA Foundation for Children, which celebrates its fifth anniversary on 24 April, has been working with the Fundación del Empresariado Chihuahuense (FECHAC) to provide basic education and sports activities for local youngsters.
The teaching of sport has a dual purpose. It helps the participants to get fit, while it also teaches them valuable life skills such as teamwork and perseverance. Just as importantly, sport helps to teach youngsters discipline and the need to obey rules.
The overall aim is to give the participants a different outlook on life and increase their self-confidence, thus hopefully leading to a decrease in the number of children using drugs or being involved with gangs. The FECHAC programme is currently being run in 88 schools across Chihuahua, and it is hoped to expand this to 100 schools within the next two years.
“Sport and education are vital for the physical and intellectual development of any child,” said former Mexico captain Gerardo Torrado. He fully understands the importance of education and is currently enrolled on the UEFA Executive Master for International Players programme alongside the likes of Didier Drogba and Ricardo Kaká.
“This is a great initiative by the UEFA Foundation for Children in conjunction with the Fundación del Empresariado Chihuahuense which is giving children the chance to develop new skills that will hopefully enable them to choose their own paths in life.”
Football is a powerful tool
UEFA president Aleksander Čeferin chairs the foundation’s board of trustees and hails the work undertaken since 2015, and how football is proving to be a major force for social good.
“Having had the opportunity to be personally involved in various projects, I have seen that football is an extremely powerful tool,” said the UEFA president.
“Whether it is in refugee camps across the world, the troubled suburbs of European cities or forgotten conflict zones, all the activities supported by the UEFA Foundation for Children have strengthened my desire to see European football assume its role in the social development of young people all over the world.”
One million children
In the five years since the UEFA Foundation for Children was set up, around one million children have benefitted from its broad palette of activities worldwide, while it has provided support for projects in 100 countries on all five continents.
Through sport, and football in particular, the foundation is helping to give hope to children from difficult backgrounds to help them achieve their goals in life.