A group sponsored by the U.S State Department
is using soccer and other team sports in a new project to
help disadvantaged young people in Uruguay, Brazil and Ecuador
increase their workplace skills and employment prospects,
says the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
In an October 27 statement, the IDB said
it is providing a $3.8 million grant to the project that
will be carried out by Partners
of the Americas, a nongovernmental group that promotes
people-to-people cooperation between citizens in the United
States and Latin America and the Caribbean. U.S. President
John F. Kennedy conceived the idea for such a group in 1963.
Since then, the group has received backing from the State
Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development,
and several other U.S. agencies.
Partners of the Americas will provide $2.5
million for the project, which will be known as "A
Ganar" in Ecuador and Uruguay, and "Vencer"
in Brazil (the Spanish and Portuguese words, respectively,
meaning "to win"). The project involves young
men and women, mainly between ages 18 and 21, in the cities
of Quito, Montevideo and Rio de Janeiro, the IDB said.
The IDB said Partners of the Americas has
ample experience in youth development programs and frequently
teams up with major U.S. corporations interested in supporting
social, economic and cultural projects in the Americas.
Unemployment rates among Brazilians, Ecuadorans
and Uruguayans ages 15 to 24 are far above the workforce
averages in their respective countries, and are even higher
among young people from low-income households, the IDB reported,
adding that business leaders in these South American nations
say that young people often lack basic workplace skills
that can help them find and retain jobs.
The model for the project, the IDB said,
stems from the results of workshops and consultations held
with youth groups, community leaders, business people, sports
organizations, and local government officials, and seeks
to address the problem of young people's employability.
The project will involve youths in the professional
soccer "feeder" [developmental] system in Uruguay,
while in Ecuador it will deal with young people in the soccer
feeder system and in vocational training schools, the IDB
said. The feeder system refers to developmental leagues
for professional soccer. In Brazil, the IDB project will
draw athletes from various organized sports including soccer,
volleyball, and track and field.
Participants will receive training in a
"core employability curriculum" to address such
issues as the capacity to work in teams, be punctual, meet
deadlines, observe workplace etiquette, and develop intrapersonal
The project will use companies that can
provide scholarships, internships, and stipends for youths
in the training program. One of the project's components
entails an outreach campaign to build awareness about A
Ganar and Vencer, particularly through major sports events.
The IDB said the project "aims to overcome
the limitations of isolated job training efforts by bringing
together a range of stakeholders: local governments, chambers
of commerce, private-sector companies, nonprofit organizations,
and sports associations, among others."
For more information about the A Ganar/Vencer
Program, please visit the Partners
of the Americas website.