Since last spring, more than 100 teens and their families have gathered on Sundays in San Jose de la Maquina, Guatemala for community football games. These weekly events are more than just an excuse for children, parents and other community members to gather, they are an important way to get teens into school.
At least 12 young people currently participating in the football championship have resumed their studies. Many of the players and fans are still outside the education system and the weekly games provide an opportunity encourage them to be entering Telesecundaria, or televised high school, newly opened school in the B16 community.
“The beauty of the championship has been that we can both work together for young people and motivate them. We also offer the whole community a different activity,” says Mr. Arnaldo Zuniga, President of the Support Committee. He added “Now on Sundays here at school, it is a nice opportunity for the young people playing and the families who come to see them. We have included a second round, so that young people can play more games. ”
The San José de la Maquina area is mainly characterized by tobacco farms and lacks infrastructure. Outside the school and the church, there weren’t enough places to community members – especially teens and young people — to meet. During the remaining time the football championship season more participants will be encouraged to enter school for the next academic year in January 2017.
About the EEMPATA Project
The football championship is part of the the EEMPATA project (Education and Employability for Young Workers in Agriculture), which works with children and teens to encourage them to continue studying and job-skills training, which will allow them to develop as individuals and break the cycle of poverty. The project itself is inclusive of community members and works with a committee composed of community leaders, parents, adolescents and technicians from tobacco companies in the region.
The ECLT Foundation’s EEMPATA project is implemented by DNI Costa Rica. The football championship has been an addition to the project thanks to funding by Alliance One – Guatemala, a member of the ECLT Foundation.