A Ganar: Not Just For Youth

Gabriela Moore, Sport-for-Development Program Coordinator

Every young person deserves the chance to succeed, and empowered with the right tools, they can. Through A Ganar, we equip youth with the skills - communication, teamwork, respect, discipline, continual self-improvement, and a focus on results - to successfully return to school, gain employment, or start their own business. A Ganar makes a tremendous difference in the lives of young people, but it's not just youth that benefit from A Ganar.

I recently returned from a Training of Trainers (TOT) workshop in Trinidad and Tobago, where I spent four-days training 20 staff from two organizations, MyPart and Chatham Youth Development and Apprenticeship Centre, in the A Ganar methodology. While both organizations offer at-risk youth life-skills and technical training, using sport to teach youth life skills was a foreign concept for the staff.

As I trained the staff using our A Ganar Student and Facilitator Manuals, I was pleasantly surprised by the level of enthusiasm from the would-be facilitators, especially given that many of them are retired Trinidadian military officials, and much more discipline oriented than other groups we have worked with in the past. Yet they comfortably took on the role of the facilitator, guiding the group through an activity from the manual or creating their own. They were enthusiastic and creative, and that enthusiasm kept the energy level of the entire group high.

After the training was completed, I reviewed the evaluations and was surprised to see many of the comments didn’t have anything to do with the methodology itself. Rather, the trainers learned the same lessons we ask them to instill in youth – “Be flexible, analyze, evolve,” “Nothing is impossible to achieve with a team,” “You are never too old to learn,” “Creativity, teamwork, initiative,” “You must be able to use your energy to carry your class,” and “Be more confident.” Our soon-to-be facilitators grew as individuals, and their comments, lessons learned, and contagious energy gave me full confidence the program will go far.

So, on this International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, I want to thank all our A Ganar facilitators, for their willingness to keep on learning, and empower youth across Latin America and the Caribbean to achieve their dreams.

A Ganar combats the serious problem of youth unemployment by utilizing soccer and other team sports to help youth in Latin America, ages 16-24, find jobs, learn entrepreneurial skills, or re-enter the formal education system. The program is funded by the generous support of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and many other donors.