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Sports: An opportunity for youth in Latin America and the Caribbean

Yes, practicing sports can improve lives of young people and give them hope for a brighter future.

Many of the 83 million children and youth living in poverty in the Latin American and Caribbean region are victims of violence and social exclusion. In Latin America, 9.5 million young people aged 15 to 24 do not have jobs.

Sports can play a key role in promoting a range of development objectives from self-esteem and team work at the personal level to conflict resolution, violence prevention, and social inclusion at the community level.

Sports-based development programs can help young people by preventing and treating risky behavior and promoting community and personal development, employment creation and entrepreneurship and education.

The potential of sport as a tool for development is being harnessed by range of organizations across the world. The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in its innovative work on sports for development has found a number of partners that share its vision and whose interests and goals converge. Recent examples of innovative partnerships for sports for development include:

  • The IDB´s Multilateral Investment Fund has teamed up with the Nike Foundation and Microsoft to engage youth in the region, particularly women, in soccer and use this sport as a tool to teach them skills that are important for the job market such as: teamwork and higher self-esteem, as well as reading, writing and mathematical skills. This program has recently been expanded to another six countries in the region, bringing the total of countries benefitting from this initiative to 11. This year, the IDB and its partners will begin implementation of this initiative in Ciudad Juárez, México.
  • Youth in the region can promote their community development work and engage others through a partnership between MTV Latin America, Nike and the IDB Youth program. Under this alliance, youth in the region have the chance to raise awareness around their projects of social inclusion through sports.
  • The IDB, together with the Korea Poverty Reduction Fund, FIFA, and Street Football World, is supporting more than 20 soccer-based regional initiatives that address groups discriminated on the basis of poverty, ethnic origin and gender. The initiatives directly benefit young people.

Innovative sports for development programs take advantage of youth´s passion and dedication for sports to help them develop skills for life.

By playing sports, young people can achieve something more than trophies and medals. They can rise up to become champions of their own lives and score goals for development.

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