Editor’s Note: Jonny “Vegas” Namer recently spoke with Rodrigo Pascual, Coordinator of Lacrosse Guatemala, about growing the game in Guatemala. Rodrigo, who’s also the Director of Sports and Recreation for Manos Amigas (Helping Hands) is one of the key people leading the charge.
An Introduction to Lacrosse in Guatemala
Lacrosse Guatemala began 4 years ago in order to promote physical and recreational activity in children and youth in urban and rural areas of Guatemala, and also to support their academic development. Lacrosse now contributes to the formation of children and youth living in high risk areas.
For example, in rural communities, children and youth are living in difficult situations, facing drug problems, violence, prostitution, youth gangs integration, and other issues that prevent the young from developing; all in a society where the youth are marginalized. We are giving them opportunities to express themselves and function through sport.
With the help and support of our friends in the United States, we held the first lacrosse clinic in Guatemala located next to the dump in zone 3. The first team was formed in Guatemala and more teams were then formed in Escuintia Palin, Livingston, Quetzaltenango, Coban, Ciudad Quetzal, and Peronia.
Today, we have over 350 young people, including men and women, all over Guatemala practicing this fantastic sport of lacrosse.
Our organization is about much more than just playing sports, and thanks to the support of several friends in the USA, we are able to accomplish this. All young people who are practicing in lacrosse in Guatemala are part of their own organization that promotes sports and recreation in Guatemala. All of these young people are poor.
We hope that we will have more people, schools, colleges, and companies get involved in the future, and help change the lives of many children and young people living in difficult conditions without opportunities for development in Guatemala.
You can support our project with cash donations and sponsorships. When you are supporting our project in Guatemala you are providing a moment of joy, hope, and opportunity for a child in need, and children living in poverty in Guatemala.
We are young, we seek the solution to our problems through sport and recreation, and so people can make change to our country. Thank you for believing in us, and for helping us to overcome the problems that young people are dealing with in Guatemala.
It is not easy for us to excel in a country where violence prevails and young people spend their daily time on bad things, but the organization MANOS AMIGAS is working to help young people, which can change everything through sports in different communities in Guatemala.
We are aware that there is a lot of work to do and this will only be possible through the efforts of everyone. The organization, Manos Amigas (helping hands), currently needs the support in the collection of funds to continue the lacrosse program that benefits more than 350 young people living in poverty throughout Guatemala.
We invite you to show your support to continue this agenda of lacrosse in Guatemala.
Currently, the organization, Helping Hands, needs:
– Lacrosse sticks
– Sports equipment
– Economic support
Ciudad de Guatemala
30 calle “A” 6-89 zona 11 colonia granai 1
Interview with Rodrigo Pascual
What follows is Jonny Namer’s interview with Rodrigo Pascual, Coordinator of Lacrosse Guatemala, and Director of sports and recreation for the association, Manos Amigas:
Jonny: What challenges have you faced growing the game of lacrosse in Guatemala?
Rodrigo: Besides the challenges we have encountered in the game of lacrosse, there is the lack of spaces for practicing the sport of lacrosse in Guatemala. There are fields but they are private and access to them is limited. It is for that reason that we find it necesary to practice in the streets, and vacant lots.
What challenges have you faced in your misson to positively impact the lives of young people in Guatemala?
Recreational sports like lacrosse drive the association, Manos Amigas. Since the project started, we have been given the task to make positive impacts on the children and youth living in marginal areas, and rural Guatemala. In the communities where our lacrosse programs are developed, children and youth are living in situations of poverty.
One of the biggest challenges is overcoming violent deaths of young people that happen in our country. We are preventing violence and crime through the practice of lacrosse and other sports. We have had to overcome the lack of access to education, as well as marginalization, discrimination, exclusion, and branding to young people.
Have you had any surprise areas of success?
One of the great successes of the association, Manos Amigas, is that through lacrosse we can can prevent violence in Guatemala, and many children and youth have access to education now. The youth and children of Guatemala are becoming leaders in their communities. We have been looking to make a festival of lacrosse each year where we call on other countries to participate.
3 of our players happen to be in college, we have visits from schools and universities from the USA, and the Costa Rica national team came to Guatemala to play a friendly game of lacrosse. One of the biggest successes we have achieved is that today we now have more than 600 youth playing lacrosse throughout Guatemala, with the purpose of having fun and saying YES to life.
Have you interacted with the FIL (The Federation of International Lacrosse)? Do you have plans for Guatemala to play for the FIL World Games in Denver in 2014?
Since the start of our project, The Federation of International Lacrosse has provided us unconditional support. One of our greatest dreams is to be in a world cup of lacrosse. For us, that would be the maximum you can dream for children and youth living in poverty in Guatemala. In regards to Denver 2014, the problems that limit us is that we do not have the economic resources to attend.
Do you have a coach?
We do not have professional coaches yet. Lacrosse teams are the ones who train our sports leaders so they can support their teams in their communities. Hopefully, this year we will have many lacrosse players who want to come to volunteer their time to help with the development of lacrosse in Guatemala.
How can players, coaches, and anybody that wants to show their support and appreciation get in contact with you?
Argentina and Mexico have done very well in Growing The Game. Have you spoken with the guys in charge of the lacrosse programs in Argentina and Mexico?
We have maintained a close relationship with both teams, and both are very interested in making methodological exchange events to grow the sport of lacrosse.
Lastly, can you reflect on lacrosse in South America?
The growth of lacrosse in South America has had a huge guiding force. I hope we can continue to grow together. In the future, we would like to have a Latin American Federation of Lacrosse. That will get us that much closer to becoming a global power in the lacrosse world.