Grassroots football creates new opportunities for children and youth in Mexico14 December 2016

Anumberofgrassrootsprojectsareusingfootballto increasetheawarenessofMexicansonamultitudeofsocialissues,includinggenderequality,gender-basedviolence,childlabour,thesituationofmigrants,andatthesametimecreatingnewopportunitiesforchildren.

In the State of Michoacán, Western Mexico, the local government launched a football cup in October aimed at creating a space to ensure all children’s rights, while helping prevent child abuse, child labour and other risk situations.

The tournament, titled “Por una niñez y adolescencia DIFerente” (ENG “For a different child and teenagehood”), kicked-off in the beginning of November and brought together 300 children and youth living in vulnerable situations and of migrant backgrounds from across 14 municipalities of the sate.

During the round of sixteen and quarter final matches, Rocío Beaumont, Director of the State Michoacán, highlighted the contribute of the tournament not only to raise awareness of human rights but also to promote life skills such as team work and responsibility.

In Apizaco, Sate of Tlaxcala, the Real Madrid foundation is also helping create more opportunities for children of migrant backgrounds. Youngsters aged between 12-15 enrolled in the football project are entitled to a bursary to further their studies and play football.

Gender equality has been the main focus in Altamira, Gulf of Mexico, where as part of the state’s newest gender equality campaign, a mixed tournament was held over the weekend to celebrate and raise awareness of equal rights between men and women.

“The goal of this mixed tournament is promoting a healthy competition based on fair-play for both genders” said the city mayor Alma Laura Amparán Cruz.

On a similar move, the not for profit organisation Mujeres, Lucha y Derechos para todas (Mulyd) launched in 2009 a project that  through football sessions and workshops helps indigenous Mazahua girls strengthen their leadership skills, increase the knowledge of their sexual and reproductive rights and increase the levels of awareness of gender-based violence and discrimination.

NGO Proyecto Cantera works across Mexico with different ethnic groups and associations to deliver football sessions to children in poverty and at risk.

Through its programme Tarjeta Verde (Green Card) the NGO reinforces positive skills and values showed by players on the pitch, who become role models for the team.

Paula Sandoval, project coordinator, said: “Projecto Cantera collaborates with ethnic minority groups because we are looking to foster healthy behaviours and skills for life”.

Earlier in April, national and government bodies came together to promote the “Football for Inclusion” tournament, which looked to fight poverty through sport and promote the rights of Mexico’s youth. Over 152 youngsters were involved in the project, which took place in 68 municipalities across 32 Mexican states.