Not every kid who picks up a pair of ice skates, baseball bat or kicks a soccer ball, dreams of going to the Olympics. But every kid who watches the Games can see proof of the healthy values sport has to offer: discipline, teamwork, grace and perseverance.
Recently, I was on assignment in Honduras, interviewing some of the local school children, when I noticed how important soccer is to them—they love it and most of them play. Why? Because in a country beset by violence, organized soccer gives these kids the chance to have fun and to be away from unsavoury influences.
Baseball Diamonds in the Dominican
Boys in the Dominican Republic also love sports, specifically: baseball. Some dream of playing in the Major Leagues, including former sponsored child, Claudio M. Yan.
Claudio M. Yan might one day be swinging the bat in the Majors. Photo: Claudia Martinez/World Vision.
The 17-year-old is joining the Mets training camp in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. He hopes to become the New York City team’s next pitcher. Claudio’s dream to play in the Majors started eleven years ago when his neighbour, a baseball coach supported by World Vision, told his grandmother that he had the right height and skills for the sport. Claudio’s grandmother trusted the coach—two years earlier he saved Claudio from drowning in a flood caused by Hurricane Georges. So naturally, Claudio joined a baseball team.
"My grandmother always supported me because she [knew] when you keep playing a sport you stay away from problems and vices,” Claudio says. And while he’s nervous about training camp, Claudio now has the chance to become a professional athlete. "I want to go far to help my family.”
Help Make Some New Athletes: Claudio
and Javier have been given a hand up through sponsorship, which often
includes projects that support sports and play for kids. Learn more about how sponsorship works.
The origin of “The Swimmer Kid”
And there’s this boy in El Salvador. His name’s Javier and he’s 12 years old. He’s won four gold medals at local and national swimming competitions—some of these swim meets were promoted by World Vision. Javier’s the kid I wasn’t referring to at the beginning of this article. He does think about competing at the Olympics. “My dream is to be a champion,” Javier says.
Meet “The Swimmer Kid,” Javier. Photo: Katia Maldonado/World Vision.
Though Javier lives near his community’s pool, he wasn’t much of a swimmer until he joined a World Vision-funded swim club three years ago. He got so good—mastering the freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke and butterfly—his community gave him the nickname: the Swimmer Kid.
“Swimming is my life,” Javier says. “I see myself competing in Olympic swimming pools and winning medals. My mother, my friends and even people from other countries believe I can make it. That encourages me to be better.”
The seventh-grader also wants to give back to his community. “I want to be an instructor to teach other children, because swimming or any other sport makes us think healthy,” he says.