Sport for Employability Program Expands to Vocational Training Centers in Colombia

Andrés Varona, Program Officer

We are pleased to have expanded our A Ganar program to Colombia this year, in partnership with Colombia’s National Learning Service SENA and Volunteers Colombia.

A Ganar is a sport-for-development program that prepares at-risk teens and young adults to find a job or return to school. Since 2005, the A Ganar program has used a multi-disciplinary curriculum to reach over 16,000 youth in 19 countries across Latin America and the Caribbean. By leveraging the power of team sports, A Ganar teaches youth participants critical life and employability skills, addressing youth unemployment by working at the intersection of comprehensive vocational training and holistic human development.

With the support of SENA and Volunteers Colombia, A Ganar is currently training youth  across 65 SENA centers, empowering them through sport-based activities and soft skills training. The partnership is an exciting opportunity to prepare youth for the world of work by combining this A Ganar traditional “Phase 1”  with the extensive vocational training offered by SENA.

“Thanks to the A Ganar methodology, I have noticed positive improvements in the student’s attitudes, positivity, willingness to learn, and English-speaking skills throughout the duration of their classes.”

Ryan Lopez, Volunteacher at Cucuta’s SENA Center​​​

In order to build capacity locally, Partners of the Americas and partner organization FUDELA led comprehensive trainings with 80 SENA center staff, who are serving as A Ganar facilitators. Through the partnership with Volunteers Colombia, this initiative also incorporates English language learning through their Volunteachers (volunteer teachers who are native English speakers). At each of SENA’s vocational training centers, a Volunteacher is paired with one or two physical education (P.E.) instructors who were trained in the A Ganar methodology. Each week, both the P.E instructor and the local Volunteacher provide at least 5 hours of instruction to a cohort of youth. This includes a series of warm-ups and team-based physical activities that nurture and strengthen the employability skills (e.g. teamwork, communication, discipline, respect) and English language ability of each youth trainee.​

In addition to English language training, Volunteachers are also responsible for meeting regularly with local SENA staff in order incorporate relevant educational and social themes into program activities and track the progress and impact of instruction. The training at each SENA center lasts for a period of at least six months and offers youth up to 80 hours of sport-based activities and classes. 

“I am very happy to have been part of this wonderful project which gave me the opportunity to do what I am most passionate about: teaching and contributing to the growth of young people through recreation and sports. Fulfilling this duty has afforded me the chance to grow my own professional skills as well as be in the shoes of other people”

Bernelly Quinto Hurtado,Sports Instructor at SENA – Regional Meta ​​

Thanks to the partnership between A Ganar’s sport-based employability curriculum, SENA’s vocational training, and Volunteers Colombia’s English language teaching, over 1200 youth in Colombia are better equipped to enter and excel in the workforce.