As part of International Day of Sport for Development and Peace on April 6th, we are taking a look at the programmes we support all over the world, with today’s piece focussing on the continent of South America. So far there are three squash programmes the PSA Foundation have partnered with in South America that all use squash to improve quality of life in underserved communities.
Not a continent you would typically associate with high levels of participation in squash, which is reflected on the PSA Tour with 1.2% of players coming from Colombia, 0.9% from Argentina and 0.4% from Brazil. With this in mind, the programmes we have partnered with below punch way above their weight with the positive impact they have on young peoples’ lives.
SQUASH URBANO COLOMBIA – COLOMBIA
Located in Cartagena, Colombia, Squash Urbano provides a year-round programme which looks to provide life-changing opportunities for their 50 juniors from low-income families through education, mentoring and the sport of squash.
Founded in 2014, their programmes combine squash with academics, mentoring, community service, and college placement. Their intensive, year-round programming, which takes place after school, on the weekends and in the summer, engages students until they finish their schooling.
One of their star pupils, Valeria Osorio, became the first Squash Urbano Colombia student ever to be awarded a scholarship at a top-tier boarding school and then a place at Wesleyan university in the USA last year. To learn more about Valeria’s journey, watch this video below created by the PSA Foundation:
Five other students have also been sent to US boarding schools since then, evidencing great academic success. However also boast eight Colombian National Championship titles across the different age groups.
Similar to the other programmes within our network, Squash Urbano had a successful food drive throughout the pandemic to ensure that the families of the programme had the necessities to keep strong and healthy throughout the difficult time. Squash Urbano have recently been able to make a return to court.
To find out more about Squash Urbano Colombia, visit their site here: https://www.squashurbanocol.org/
SQUASHINHOS – BRAZIL
Squashinhos is a squash and educational development project which helps underserved children from the communities of Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. In Rio, more than 1.2 million people live in the favelas on less than £1 per day. The residents lack access to the most basic public services, such as health care, education, and space for recreation.
The communities in Rio De Janeiro struggle from a lack of community driven projects. Organised crime and gang violence are also common, while unemployment rates are high and many people work in the informal, poorly paid sector. With the creation of the Squashinhos, they seek to create a social and healthy learning environment for children, opening their eyes to another world.
Squashinhos don’t just want to create athletes, they want to help children work towards a career and graduate from high school. They aim to secure these children a future away from drugs and weapons. Four times a week they give English, Spanish and squash lessons to the children, with 40 kids enrolled in the project.
Brazil has been hit hard by the pandemic, with a struggling healthcare system restrictions have been heavy and made the running of the programme difficult. Fortunately their activities are back up and running, meaning many happy faces!
Find out more about Squashinhos and how to support them here: https://www.squashinhos.com/
SQUASH SIN LIMITES – ARGENTINA
Squash Sin Limites, which translates in English to Squash Unlimited, is based in Cordoba, Argentina, and is a brand new charity launched late last year. The programme has been inspired by the model of community squash programmes that can be seen internationally. They will use squash, education and personal development to improve quality of life for local underserved children.
Squash Sin Limites presents a slightly different and new angle. Instead of focusing on one particular hub of operation, they seek to establish a strong network of coaches that can operate at various centres for sport across the city at first. The game of squash will be adapted where necessary into already established public facilities to ensure its inclusion with other well known sports.
Squash Sin Limites was inspired by PSAF partners Squash Para Todos and their Founder and Executive Director, Carlos Schonenberg. He gave a talk at this year’s South America Squash Congress about their work to use squash and education to improve quality of life for local underserved children and their recent outdoor community court creations to spearhead these efforts.
The court adaptations that they would like to adapt into facilities already established in Argentina can be seen below:
Squash Sin Limites has been waiting patiently to properly commence their work with local youngsters when restrictions allow. To keep track of their progress follow their Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/squashsinlimites