90 Latin American Youths embracing Basketball For Good in El Salvador

16 Youth Leaders and over 70 U18 players from 9 Latin American countries gathered from 27 April to 1 May in El Salvador to take part in a Youth Leadership Workshop and Mixed-Nations tournament. The Youths learned about using Basketball For Good and relationship by interacting with different countries.

The event kicked off with a cultural day where the Youths from the 9 different countries (Bolivia, Guatemala, El Salvador, Ecuador, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Mexico) were able to get to know each other. They were also able to discover some of the local sites and culture.

COCABA (Confederación Centroamericana de Baloncesto) President Mario Mendez addressed the Youths “Today we are not rivals, we are friends. You have the privilege to be here, use this opportunity. You are the future of basketball in your respective countries and together we can grow basketball and create change in our region”.

Both Youth Leaders and players took part in a Youth Leadership workshop. For the first activity, they were put into mixed teams. They went through a series of challenges where they learned to interact with each other and work as a team. “Sometimes we don’t believe in ourselves”, said Nicaragua Youth Leader Junior Arias Dominguez, “but when we started helping each other and believing in each other it gave us confidence” he concluded.

The players were then introduced to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and asked to come up with initiatives in which sport could be used as a tool to address them.

Meanwhile, the Youth Leaders dug deeper into what they had learned during the Youth Leadership Seminar. They were given the tools to create theories of change for their Basketball For Good projects. They all presented their project to the players and guests who were then able to choose which one resonates with them the most.

Meilyn Herrera and Daniel Rodriguez’s project was chosen. The Youth Leaders from Costa Rica are planning to organize 3×3 basketball training for kids from 7 to 12 and use the opportunity to teach them about the importance of education. “We want to give them the tools to study, to be athletes and organize life skills workshops for them to receive more opportunities and be more successful in life”, explained Meilyn.

The second and third with the most votes were the projects presented by Panama and Mexico. The Youth Leaders from all three countries will receive additional basketballs to help them within their project.

The workshops were facilitated by Gabriela Matus, Victoria Soto and Juan Sebastián Sánchez who have been working with the Youth Leaders since August 2021. They led interactive sessions which kept the participants engaged and motivated.

Gabriela stated, “We are going to keep helping the Youth Leaders in the coming months. Even though they are in different stages of their projects we want them to feel empowered to keep working and to keep using basketball as a tool of change in their countries and communities to leave a legacy to the program”

The players were divided into mixed-nations teams for the U18 3×3 tournament. This reinforced the social and cultural aspect of the event and allowed for a better exchange of cultures. The players rose to the challenge of getting to know their teammates and built lasting relationships.

Ashley Kloth from Guatemala explained “My team was very social and accessible, but I have to say it was difficult, we had to learn how to collaborate with others and how to coordinate ourselves on the court. It was a great experience to learn about other cultures and I enjoyed discovering new words and expressions from the other players”.

The winning team of the men’s category was ‘1 of 1’ with players from Panama, Nicaragua, Mexico and Guatemala. While Xilrode with players from Panama, Nicaragua, Mexico, and Guatemala won the women’s category.

Furthermore, Lya Gonzalez from Panama and Michael Evans from Guatemala won a medal for their respective countries in the Skills challenge while Florencia Araoz and Pablo Arteaga both from Bolivia won the Shoot-Out contest.

Alejandro Flores from Bolivia was able to distinguish himself in the Dunk contest with an impressive feat of athleticism.

The event was highly appreciated by all and could have not happened without the collaboration of the Basketball Federation of El Salvador (FESABAL) and the National Sports Institute of El Salvador (INDES). Yamil Bukele, FESABAL and INDES President said “As president of CONCENCABA and as president of the Salvadoran Basketball Federation, it has been an honor to host this event, organized in conjunction with the FIBA ​​Foundation. The commitment of the Foundation fits perfectly with our vision of the country. And this Youth Leaders 3×3 event has shown it. Betting on youth and sports is a strategy that allows us to sow a seed that will continue to grow and bear fruit over time”.

He continued, “Through sports, societies can form positive leaders for societies across America. I trust and believe that young people are elements of change for our countries, for our societies”.

While the event was a culmination of the Youth Leader’s virtual seminar, it was not the end of their journey as they will be further supported and encouraged to develop their Basketball For Good projects when they go back to their respective countries.

FIBA Foundation Project Manager Theren Bullock Jr. stated “Through the Youth Leaders implementing their own programs we will be able to grow the Basketball For Good community and the number of beneficiaries impacted in the region. Furthermore, they will become part of a global network of leaders effecting positive change worldwide using the sport we love”.

PEAK and Molten provided basketballs and uniforms for the event.

 

About Youth Leadership:                                                                                                                                                                                        The FIBA Foundation’s Youth Leadership program is a global Basketball For Good initiative giving youths the skills and opportunities to create a brighter future for themselves and their communities. This program teaches leadership and life skills through 3×3 basketball. The Youth Leaders are supported to create their own community impact project, growing the Basketball For Good family worldwide. Please contact us if you want to know more about our programs or if you are interested to work with us.

 

Source: FIBA

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