EQUATORIAL GUINEA: Salesian partnership with Real Madrid Foundation helps youth
Close to 100 children at the Don Bosco School in Malabo participate in a socio-sports program run by the Real Madrid Foundation
(MissionNewswire) Close to 100 children at the Don Bosco School in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, participate in a socio-sports program run by the Real Madrid Foundation. Through soccer and basketball, boys and girls between the ages of 9-17 learn the values of team play and improve their eating habits, hygiene and academic performance.
The partnership between the Real Madrid Foundation and the Salesians began in 2010 in a Salesian school in Senegal and continued to schools in Central and South America. The first social-sports school was in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In 2012, social-sports schools opened in Portugal. Today, the collaboration has 21 projects in 14 countries and serves nearly 4,000 children each season, using educational sport and its values as a catalyst for the social betterment of youth and communities.
Both the Real Madrid Foundation and the Salesians are aware that sports are important for social integration and the promotion of values like teamwork, communication, respect and team spirit. The social-sports schools are housed in Salesian schools. As part of the Real Madrid Foundation’s “They play, we educate” program, participants receive nutrition, family and psychological support, regular health checkups, the opportunity to participate in social and educational workshops, gymnastics, crafts and reading, and citizenship activities. Training sessions on topics such as health, hygiene, values, and the prevention of alcohol, tobacco, and drug abuse are also provided.
Mayoka, a 16-year-old girl who plays basketball at the Don Bosco School in in Malabo, said, “What I like most is the joy and the atmosphere of camaraderie between us. They help us with our studies and we really enjoy learning the sport we like. We wouldn’t mind if it were every day of the week!”
During the school year, the goal in the first quarter is to get to know the participants and explain the activities with friendly tournaments. In the second quarter, the emphasis is on training the coaches and supporting student in their studies through reinforcement lessons.
In March 2020, the pandemic stopped all activities due to the mandatory lockdown. The school continued to operate online, supporting children and their families with advice on how to prevent COVID-19. This year, activities are continuing according to the capacity limits and all necessary preventive measures including the use of masks during tutoring, disinfecting hands before entering the playing field or in any activity organized by the school, and taking the temperature of the participants before they enter the sports complex.
In 2020, the United Nations Development Programme ranked Equatorial Guinea 145 out of 189 countries in its Human Development Report. While poverty statistics are hard to come by because the government in the country controls the media, the UN has noted that more than half of Equatorial Guinea’s population still lacks access to clean water. UNICEF has found that 26 percent of the population uses unimproved drinking water sources, and only 66 percent have access to basic sanitation services. The country also lacks good infrastructure including schools and hospitals.
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