Setting New Goals Through Soccer
It’s difficult to know how many people have died as a result of the drug war in Mexico. Some estimates put the civilian casualty rate at over 160,000 since 2007, a number that surpasses both Iraq and Afghanistan combined. In the midst of all these numbers are family members: brothers, fathers, women, and sadly, children. In a country where many live in poverty or extreme poverty, Mexican drug cartels are exploiting the poorest neighborhoods to coerce and recruit children to fight their battles. Many join because they are threatened. Others join because there is little else for them to do.
One of our programs is working to keep children away from drug cartels using something that many locals are passionate about: soccer. Our Saved by Soccer program is supporting children at-risk of being recruited into the drug cartels. In this environment, the smallest things can mean the most to these children, many of whom grew up in such poverty that playing with real soccer balls was not an option. One of our sponsor children said that what he liked about our program was simply that, “we have the opportunity to train with real soccer balls...” Our program also helps children develop discipline and leadership to prepare them for the professional world. We have helped put more than 200 youth through college ensuring that they have a safer and brighter future. Many of our sponsored children have continued on to be professionals with strong careers, or even professional and semi-professional soccer players. At the end of the day, our soccer program is not really about soccer, but about changing lives. It’s about using soccer to open doors into dark places and bringing hope where it is hard to find. One of our sponsored children told us that through the project, “I am making new friends and I am becoming more disciplined and having a more responsible lifestyle.” Another sponsored soccer player said, “I am thankful for the time that is given to us in the soccer training sessions because it helps me get distracted from every-day problems in my life.”
By sponsoring children in these soccer programs, we provide a community for them that helps protect them from the influence of drug cartels but also provides hope for the future. We provide another future for them besides crime and we train them up to be leaders that can help transform their communities. To find out more about our soccer program visit www.savedbysoccer.com