POSTED March 4, 2022
Young Nicaraguan soccer league leader gets a kick out of his new career
Coordinating soccer league has positive results for hundreds of children, their coaches and their community
By Enmanuel Castro, communications manager, Nicaragua
Soccer has played a huge part in Gregorio’s life in Nicaragua. The 21-year-old head of the Champions of Children’s Rights soccer league enjoys leading children to learn the game. And, it’s presented him with an opportunity to give back, inspiring young people, just as his coaches and the game did for him.
With about 600 children and youth participating in different categories by age, the league, supported by Children Believe, impacts many children and their families. Gregorio, who played for seven years, from 2011 to 2018, is aware he’s leading an important space that helps children grow, thrive and achieve their dreams.
“I was part of this league for a long time, and it helped me in my personal development,” he says. “Now I have the chance to contribute and to change other children’s lives for the better.”
Indeed he does. Children not only learn to play soccer, they learn about their human rights, too. Children Believe’s involvement ensures for an inclusive space that makes it possible for young people to trust they can lift their voice in society, be heard and know how to advocate for their needs.
We asked Gregorio what it means to him to be league coordinator and lead as a young adult:
What’s inspired you to become a leader in the soccer league?
I started to play soccer when I was a child. I was one of the first members of the league, and I won three championships in different categories. After I became responsible for the team in my community, the children and adolescents chose me to coordinate the league. They respect me, and they feel appreciation for me.
I like to support other children, adolescents and youth to have a chance to participate in safe and healthy spaces, have fun and strengthen their knowledge and values related to their human rights.
The program, supported by Children Believe, gives us hope to implement these actions and promote children’s rights. It provided us with balls, goal nets, uniforms, trophies and medals, but the most important is the involvement and support we received from Children Believe.
What’s been your biggest accomplishments in this role in the soccer league?
I am proud of two things: the involvement I’ve achieved from parents in the league as well as the support I’ve received from my own parents.
Parents support their children in the league, and they make the contributions they can to keep the league working well. My parents are really supportive of the work I do. They know this league contributes to making it possible for children and youth to avoid being involved in risky situations in their communities.
What is your biggest dream in life?
For now, I want to continue to support more girls, boys, adolescents and young people to join the league. Then, to be a sports promoter locally and nationally, with the goal of helping girls, boys, adolescents and youth in my country do well in life.
How is your sports’ program impacting the future of your community?
I live in a pretty calm neighbourhood, with humble and hardworking people. However, sometimes there’s violence, like gangs fighting after coming from other neighbourhoods. Some youth who were once involved in these illegal activities now have their own kids, and they don’t want that situation for their families. Through the league we are educating new and older generations to believe the future can be different and more positive.
ABOUT CHILDREN BELIEVE:
Children Believe works globally to empower children to dream fearlessly, stand up for what they believe in — and be heard. For 60+ years, we’ve brought together brave young dreamers, caring supporters and partners, and unabashed idealists. Together, we’re driven by a common belief: creating access to education — inside and outside of classrooms — is the most powerful tool children can use to change their world.
About ChildFund Alliance:
A member of ChildFund Alliance, Children Believe is part of a global network of child-focused development organizations working to create opportunities for children and youth, their families and communities. ChildFund helps nearly 23-million children and their families in 70 countries overcome poverty and underlying conditions that prevent children from achieving their full potential. We work to end violence against children; provide expertise in emergencies and disasters to ease the harmful impact on children and their communities; and engage children and youth to create lasting change and elevate their voices in decisions that affect their lives.