The IOC Young Leaders programme engages and empowers inspirational young people by providing coaching, funding and a network of mentors for them to deliver their own grass roots sports projects in their communities. Let's take a look at project stories of an IOC Young Leader!
Promoting the Benefits of Sports and the Beauty of Nature through Canoeing
I am a physiotherapy student with a degree in sports science and a master's degree in education. I'm also a wild water canoeing coach and I work as sports administrator. In 2018 I won a contest in my university to become the first Young Change Maker for the Summer Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018 in Argentina. Thanks to that I could apply to become a Young Leader and teach people in my community how to have a better life through canoeing, the sport that changed my life and the one that is helping me to build a better world through sport.
What is CANOEING THROUGH A BETTER LIFE?
My project was designed to teach kids and people no matter their age, all the benefits that nature sports, like canoeing can bring to their lives. I live in Calasparra, Murcia, a small town in the south east of Spain. Here, young people don't have many options or motivation to do much, so instead of falling into the unfortunately rampant early use of alcohol and tobacco, I presented them a better alternative through canoeing, and also share with them the health benefits of doing sport. Also when you practice canoeing you have to do it in the water, and many people from my town don't even know the amazing natural places we have in here, so I put these places in value for people to enjoy, to respect and to take really good care of Mother Nature. This year it started only in my town but the intention is to reach regional and even higher level in the future.
What have we achieved so far?
The objective of my project was to present my sport to as many people as I could. And after that, if they liked it, they can join the local club to keep practicing canoeing regularly and also join the regional canoeing federation to be future canoeing heroes. The project has been a total success even though the situation in 2020 due to the pandemic hasn't been really helpful. I was able to teach canoeing to 259 people by the end of September 2020 and more than 40 kids joined the local club the same year, which means an increase of 250% on the number of licenses compared to the previous year.
What is next?
Rivers are the veins of the world and I have seen how sport can change people's lives for the better. Sport also builds bridges and gives amazing opportunities to people like nothing else can. I want every kid I could reach to have the even better opportunities than the ones I had when I was younger to have a better life and receive in their lives the benefits that nature sports can offer.
In the future I would love to reach more people in my community, also in the neighbor cities, in my whole region. If everything goes right, maybe even national and international level. Sky is the limit. But to do so, I would need really good help, so I want to create a school to teach sports professionals how to teach canoeing and spread the word around the world. By doing so I will create job opportunities and bigger impact to even more people that can benefit from this amazing sport.