Making a difference through football

(ABOVE) Participants in the CONCACAF Grassroots coaching course and festival for the residents of Santa Catarina Pinula gather for a photo at the Federación Nacional de Fútbol de Guatemala’s Project Goal facility in Guatemala City.

GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala -- If you need evidence in order to determine if football makes a difference or not, look no further than Santa Catarina Pinula.  You’ll be a believer in the sport’s genuine power for good.

Last October, the Guatemalan village was swallowed by a devastating mudslide that took hundreds of lives and altered those of many more forever.

The best of humanity, though, has a propensity to emerge from the worst of times.  There is an inner need to react, tackling adversity through the use of one’s own talents.

It is no different for the football family.

As part of an effort to return some joy to Santa Catarina Pinula, CONCACAF – in conjunction with the Central American Football Union (UNCAF) -- conducted a grassroots coaching course and festival for its residents at the Federación Nacional de Fútbol de Guatemala’s Project Goal facility. 

Under the guidance of CONCACAF instructor Neal Ellis, a group of 30 coaches from select institutions were provided with applicable education specifically pertaining to the development of youth players age 12 and younger.

What they learned was put to notable use on December 5, when a football festival was held for 100 children (35 boys, 65 girls).  The youngsters’ happiness and excitement was unmistakable as the notion that football helps to heal was highlighted joyously once again.

At day’s end, the young people in attendance asked only one question: “When can we do this again?”

While a date for another festival has yet to be determined, the benefit of CONCACAF’s presence and assistance will long be realized.

The ability of sport to coalesce is well documented.  In that vein, the Confederation’s objective to create an environment of opportunity and hope -- wherever needed most -- continues unrelentingly.