In celebration of today’s International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (IDSDP), we shine a spotlight on the efforts of Gabriela Matus as she strives to help young people in a country affected by inequality and poverty.
If there was one thing that Guatemalan Gabriela Matus took from her Youth Olympic Games (YOG) experience as an Ambassador, it was the understanding that sport has the power to make a positive impact on young lives. With this in mind, she left the Youth Olympic Games Nanjing 2014 with a determination to pass on her experiences to her community back home.
After her time at the Youth Olympic Games, Gabriela applied for IOC funding through the YOG Ambassador+ programme for the “United Play Project” for which she was granted CHF 5000 earlier this year. This funding is open to application from all YOG Ambassadors who have an inspirational idea for how they can use sport to impact positive change in their communities.
Gabriela, armed with the knowledge and experience she garnered at Nanjing 2014, teamed up with the United Play Foundation led by Juan Diego Blas, a member of the Guatemalan Olympic Committee. Together they set out to help children in vulnerable communities overcome social challenges by providing them with skills and opportunities using sporting activities.
The inspirational project that launched this month and initially runs until the end of the year will provide Sport for Development workshops and mentoring; interactive sessions to teach children the importance of sport, well-being, healthy lifestyles and peace to help reduce violence in the community. In addition, basic training programmes will be led by qualified sport coaches and donations of sporting equipment will be provided.With this project we are looking forward to giving the children new life opportunities and developing new life skills in order to become better persons for their family and community.Gabriela Matus YOG Ambassador
The mission of the project aims to mentor young people within the local community by using sport as a tool for peace and development. 2017 is just the start of this project, which Gabriela hopes to replicate in wider communities.
Gabriela commented: “With this project we are looking forward to giving the children new life opportunities and developing new life skills in order to become better persons for their family and community.” She continued: “We want the whole community to get involved in this project and receive the benefits: being an active person, getting a healthy life, respecting each other, boys and girls playing together, all family members attending the workshops, doing inter-community championships and so on. One of the most important things for me about sport is that you can share, meet people, give your best, take on challenges and above all it gives you the tools to become a ‘change maker’ and create a better world.”
As the IDSDP commemorates the power of sport and its universality, the IOC strives to use sport to help build a peaceful and better world.
Join the movement #sport4betterworld!
Visit www.olympic.org/idsdp to learn more about the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace.