High levels of youth unemployment and a lack of educational infrastructure mean many children in Morocco are at risk of social exclusion and can be tempted to turn to the world of crime, but a new football project in the northern city of Tetouan aims to address this.
The LaLiga Educa programme has been launched by the LaLiga Foundation together with the Cervantes Institute, CODESPA Foundation and its partner ATIL Association, along with Tetouan Commune and the NGO Save Dreams. Its mission is to offer football coaching to promote the values of the sport and to teach Spanish at the same time.
“We participate side by side with like-minded organisations to give these boys and girls of Tetouan useful tools for the future, such as education in values, Spanish and sports training," María Dolores López Enamorado, Director of the Cervantes Institute in Tetouan, explained.
More than 300 boys and girls, between the ages of 12 and 15 and belonging to 15 associations and schools, have already participated in LaLiga Educa since last November.
They are being taught by 30 local volunteer coaches, who have received specific training on the ‘Values to Win’ methodology of the LaLiga Foundation. These coaches then take part in weekly sessions held by the different associations of the city.
As recognition of its achievements, the programme was recently awarded with the seal of approval by the Institute of Youth of Spain (INJUVE), part of the Spanish government’s Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality.
“This project brings together all the components that we pursue in the Foundation: values, education and sports practice,” Olga De La Fuente, Director of the LaLiga Foundation, said of the LaLiga Educa programme, before going on to explain the risks that the participating children have faced.
“Youth unemployment in Morocco is approximately 50%, which means that many young people do not have access to the world of work and finally end up turning to alternative means of subsistence such as crime, drug addiction or organised gangs that pose a serious risk in Morocco.
“The rate of school failure is very high in such environments and this means that children are at risk of being on the street from a young age. With limited resources in their neighbourhood, this only increases their vulnerability.”
As for the selection of Tetouan for this project, De La Fuente explained that the city “reflects the economic inequalities that exist within Morocco” and that overcrowding in the city’s schools means there are classes of over 40 students. That poor infrastructure leads to social exclusion and there can be violence on the streets, with access to culture and to sport severely limited.
The project’s goal is to provide 25 training sessions for each child and to organise a tournament for the participants. Besides the football coaching, another important outcome of this endeavour is the promotion of the Spanish language with the assistance of the Cervantes Institute, a Spanish institutional organisation that helps to promote the learning of Spanish all around the world. “It is a pilot project and we hope to continue growing and strengthening together across the world,” De La Fuente added.
By teaching these boys and girls the Spanish language, their prospects and employability are being significantly boosted, given that the country neighbours Spain. Furthermore, the way Spanish is taught helps students to function in other basic communicative situations, as the expert teachers apply the principles of communicative teaching and collaborative learning.
There is a strong focus on sustainability, both in the sense of equipping the students with lifelong skills that will help them in further education and in the sense of the long-term ambitions of the LaLiga Educa project.
“Our objective is to develop a sustainable project over time, so that we can have the greatest possible impact on the children,” De La Fuente said. “We will continue to collaborate with the people that are making it possible for LaLiga Educa to become a reality.”
This is good news for the organisations based in Tetouan, who have expressed gratitude for the support offered by the LaLiga Foundation and the other collaborative partners.
"We have found a key ally in LaLiga to help us improve the quality of sports services and human values that are provided for Tetouan and its youth,” said Iria Oliva, the Delegate of CODESPA in Morocco. “This project is a perfect example of how collaboration between the public, private and voluntary sectors can provoke changes in young people and take them on a formative journey.”
Javier Fernández, one of the founders of Save Dreams, echoed that sentiment, explaining that a joint endeavour with LaLiga means that the values of Spanish football are at the core of everything. “Running such a project through LaLiga applies a great set of values to the children, based on respect, teamwork, fair play, solidarity and equality,” he said.