School Programs - Girls turn

 

Breaking new ground for girls and sports.

In January 2009, we saw the first glimpse into one of the long-term benefits our programs could bring throughout the entire country of Belize. In the middle of “Game Day” at San Narciso school, two games were going on side-by-side. Both fields were filled with girls teams and coached by female teachers. Along the sideline? Well, because of the requirement of the program, all students had to line the field and cheer for the teams playing. As the boys sat and cheered, the girls played on. As we went around talking to the teachers at the school and the coaches of the teams, they all expressed the enthusiasm the girls had to play. “It is the first time they have had the opportunity to play”, said one teacher about the girls. “They love the game as much as the boys. And with this program, they have had the chance to be included”. It brought tears to our eyes as we realized the significance of the moment.

In Belize 1/4 of the youth do not go onto high school. The majority of those students are girls. The culture is one where girls are not included in many activities that are seen as “male dominated”. The desire is there within the girls to play, however, and we plan on seeing more girls’ hopes become a reality. From the past few years we have found countless stories and data that confirm the benefit of sports in a girl’s life. From self-confidence to academic performance to sexual purity, the benefits are so great that we feel especially called to further a movement where girls are encouraged and called to participate.

Some of our research reveals that, in Latin America, the improvement of a community directly relates to the level of education of the mother in a home. We see our programs inspiring and inviting girls to aspire for more than previous generations. We hope and pray our programs can be a way to give opportunities to girls that may not have been available to them before. We start with giving them a chance to play. Then we bring the values and life skills they can learn through soccer. Then we hope that life-changing character will grow within them to inspire them to want more out of life. With an emerging scholarship fund, we look forward to the day when we can provide funding to any girl wanting to go to high school but cannot afford to do so.