On International Youth Day, the words of Nelson Mandela resound ever more strongly in the sporting world. Such is the influence and power of football around the globe it is the responsibility of the game’s leaders to support development in countries that most need their help.
#YouthDay: Building the Juve family
“Sport has the power to change the world. It speaks to youth in a language they understand, it creates hope where once there was despair.”
It was this responsibility and desire to change the lives of vulnerable young people that took Juventus to Mali and the Central African Republic in June of this year and motivates their community initiatives back home.
In partnership with UNESCO, a Juventus delegation fronted by David Trezeguet witnessed first-hand the initiatives underway in both countries to provide children with a basic education and the necessary tools to build their own futures.
Juventus Legends president Trezeguet and UNESCO Assistant Director-General for External Relations and Public Information Eric Falt had the opportunity to speak to former child soldiers now back in full-time education at Bangui’s arts and trades school and Bamako’s TEMEDT center.
There, they saw how important a role sport has to play in helping to restore social cohesion and solidarity in places of hardship in a country where 75 per cent of the population is under the age of 25 and thousands of children are forced into war and conflict.
Underneath the banner: “playing for a greater cause”, Juventus Stadium will host the second edition of the UNESCO Cup on 8 September. All proceeds from the special charity match between Juventus and Boca Juniors Legends will go to Mali and the Central African Republic.
Juventus' support in both countries strives to ensure that the countries’ young people receive an education and a happy and peaceful future, bare necessities that are so easily taken for granted elsewhere in the world.
"(The UNESCO Cup) is not just about seeing the legends of Juventus and Boca Juniors. It’s about giving an opportunity to Central African Republic and Mali to dream again."
Closer to home, Juventus is committed to stamping out racial discrimination and promoting social integration through the “Un Calcio al Razzismo” (“Kick out Racism”) programme.
This is the seventh year that the club, in collaboration with UNESCO Centre of Turin, sponsors anti-racism projects set up by non-profit associations, secondary schools and 18 to 25 year-olds in Piedmont.
This year grants were awarded to fund the opening of an educational centre to host cultural events promoting diversity across the arts, sport and nutrition, thus boosting the integration of ethnic minorities into the local community.
Juventus sees education as the best way to negate social discrimination, not only as a means to giving disadvantaged families a platform from which they can aspire to earn a better living, but also the kind of education assimilated naturally by co-existing with people from different backgrounds.
This is the idea behind the “Gioca con me” (“Play with me”) programme in cooperation with UNESCO Centre of Turin and local state schools to make soccer schools more accessible to everyone.
This initiative levels the playing field by inviting to Juventus football schools children with strong academic records who, for economic or social reasons, would not normally be able to afford the subscription fees.
Thanks to this scheme, young people of different backgrounds have the chance to play and participate in a whole range of recreational activities, building a sense of fraternity and belonging amongst the new generation of our Bianconeri family.