At Nieuwindt College.
WILLEMSTAD--Dutch soccer champion Ajax currently visiting Curaçao and Sandals Resorts International (SRI) together with its philanthropic arm the Sandals Foundation launched an island-wide programme that turns discarded fishing nets sourced from the ocean and plastic waste into colourful football goals.
Through this “Future Goals” initiative, primary schools across the Dutch Caribbean country are also set to receive new soccer equipment, accompanied by a sports programme designed by the professional football organisation. “With a common objective of empowering children through the game of football and providing the resources to play, the programme marks the beginning of a collaboration between Ajax and SRI, which is opening a new resort on the island,” stated a report on the Amsterdam club’s website.
“Future Goals is a movement to encourage children in Curaçao to play and enjoy football with sustainably produced resources. Starting with the proper equipment – goals and balls – the programme will be further developed based on the needs of each respective island, with the ultimate goal to scale the programme throughout the Caribbean.”
In Curaçao, Ajax and the Sandals Foundation will work to outfit all primary schools across the island with the goals, complemented by a curriculum designed by Ajax coaches. “The eight-week programme focuses on the power of football as a vehicle to equip children with life skills, while growing their awareness of the importance of taking care of their communities, precious islands and their natural resources. Future Coaches, local youth trained by Ajax coaches, will organise and teach the programme, with the curriculum culminating in an island-wide football tournament where all participating schools compete,” the report added.
Various Ajax players with participants in clinics
The programme taps into Curaçao-based plastic recycling company “Limpi” that is in charge of manufacturing the goals from fishing nets sourced from the ocean and plastic waste. Additionally, the local youth trained by Ajax coaches are recruited by “Favela Street”, a foundation that aims to turn youngsters into role models through the game of football and a special education curriculum.
Said club director Edwin van der Sar: “Ajax is on a mission to impact the future of football on a global level. This starts with the youth – our next generation. That is why we do everything in our power to inspire future generations. Together with Sandals Resorts and the Sandals Foundation we are eager to facilitate impactful football programmes for children in Curaçao and the rest of the Caribbean – starting here at MGR Nieuwindt College in Curaçao.”
Heidi Clarke, executive director of the Sandals Foundation, stated: “Future Goals brilliantly encapsulates Sandals’ unwavering commitment to empower our islands in the Caribbean through our philanthropic arm, the Sandals Foundation, and our core pillars of education, environment and community. Enveloping ourselves in the destination was part of the blueprint as we rolled out the plans for Sandals Royal Curaçao – a new island for Sandals and a new opportunity to expand our impact – and this one-of-a-kind partnership with Ajax is a sign of our promise to generations to come.”
The first Future Goals recipient, school principal Jeanne Hellburg, added, “You truly see and feel what football does for the kids; you give them a ball and a goal and nothing else matters anymore. Future Goals is a real gift to us and the children.”
Ajax plays Team Curaçao in a friendly today, Friday, at 8:00pm. The match can be seen on TeleCuraçao, Flow Sports and Ziggo Sport.