Police Athletic League Kicks Off Soccer Qualifiers and Celebrates its 10th Anniversary
The Chargé d’Affaires of the U.S. Embassy in El Salvador, Matt Rees, participated in the start of the Police Athletic League (PAL) soccer qualifiers, a key program for the prevention of violence in Salvadoran communities.
This event marked the start of the 2022 PAL Cup soccer knockouts round and the celebration of 10 years of the program. Over the next three months, 46 youth teams and 23 children’s teams from various schools and communities nationwide will compete to play in the grand final in October 2022.
The Secretary General of the PNC, Commissioner Héctor Mendoza, said that throughout the 10 years, PAL has had as its main objective “to teach young people more than just sports techniques, but also values such as discipline, responsibility and respect, leaving them a very important legacy, a mark that will mark them throughout their lives.” At the inauguration of each League, instructors from each discipline give talks to young people on prevention in the consumption of illegal substances, resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic, risks of migration, among others.
Matt Rees, Chargé d’Affaires of the Embassy of the United States, stressed that “the Police Athletic League is possible every year thanks to the initiative and passion of young people, “together we have achieved that more than 30,000 young people from all over the country in these 10 years come to the program to play the sport they are most passionate about … it’s amazing to see how you’ve been developing your talents and skills,” he added.
Executive director of Fundación Patria Unida, Antonina Cuesta, thanked those who make this program possible year after year, “the truth is that this is possible because of special entities, one of them is you, the children, also the police officers, everyone here present who make this possible.” She also thanked the parents for supporting each of their children to participate in this type of program.
The Police Athletic League is a project funded by the U.S. Government through the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), and began as a pilot program in Santa Ana in 2012 with only 500 participants. The program is implemented by Fundación Patria Unida and provides young people with healthy alternatives to keep them away from violence, criminal groups, and migratory activities. They also have the opportunity to grow in the sports field and enter professional divisions. INL provides training to PNC agents to train young people in different sports disciplines and art, as well as to teach them values that can be replicated within their communities. To date, more than 30,000 young people have benefited from the program.