The ball has to spin just right for Honduras to advance to the next World Cup round in South Africa (a plus 2 win against Switzerland, for starters). But even if the Honduran team heads home next weekend, they will be welcomed as heros by their youngest fans. Here's a note from one of them, who tells us how soccer has changed his life.
My name is Ander Vasquez. I'm from Honduras, and I'm 14 years old. I live with my family in Villanueva, a neighborhood in Tegucigalpa which is mostly known for its violent gangs.
|Children playing soccer as part of the "FÃºtbol para la vida" program.|
My life has changed a lot since I started participating in "FÃºtbol para la vida" (Football for Life). It was set up in 2002 by UNICEF and Ricardo Ãlvarez, the former president of the National Commission for Sports Facilities and HÃ©ctor Zelaya. HÃ©ctor was the first Honduran to score a goal for our country in the 1982 World Cup. He's a national hero.
I think that "FÃºtbol para la vida" shows that playing football can change the lives of children. The program teaches us about moral and ethical values. It teaches us to stay away from drugs, alcohol and gangs and encourages us to stay in school. I now study harder because you need good grades in order to be part of "FÃºtbol para la vida". Before I participated in the program, my friends and I just used to walk around the streets barefoot. But now, all we do is play football.
Most of the kids who are part of the program are also from Villenueva and because we're involved in the program, I think our neighborhood has become a better place. It used to be one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Honduras, but now it is different and there's less crime. My father also thinks that playing sport has given me a new ambition. I want to have a healthy body and mind and stay away from drugs.
You can help share the joy of soccer with children like Ander. Through UNICEF Inspired Gifts, you can provide a durable leather soccer ball, complete with pump for just $31 and bring the beautiful game to children in refugee camps and other neglected corners of the world.