Soccer as a gang prevention tool

Maria Hoisington,a student of Latin American Studies and Human Rights at the University of Washington, published an article in Upside Down World looking at one community's use of soccer leagues to help keep youth out of gangs:
Not only have these policies been unsuccessful in gang abatement, police repression and targeting of youth has, in effect, criminalized the act of being young. In the past five years, there have been constant outcries from non-governmental organizations, human rights groups, opposition party members, and civil society denouncing repression and calling for alternative solutions. I spent April and May of 2009 in El Salvador researching one of these alternatives; a violence prevention program implemented in 2006 by the local government in San Martín, a municipality located outside the capital city, San Salvador. San Martín has historically been one of the most violent municipalities in the country, but has enjoyed substantial success in lowering its crime statistics and providing opportunity for youth during the past three years. The manner in which the local government in San Martín discusses and treats youth issues is drastically different from that of the national government, and directly affects how local youth view their own opportunities and participation in society. A key aspect of the program, known as Plan ‘San Martín Seguro’, or ‘A Safe San Martín’, is a soccer league for youth ages six to eighteen. My investigation focused on the experience of young men who participate in the league. Our discussions centered around the marginalization of communities due to gang presence, the soccer league as a tool for violence prevention, and their experiences of police repression.(more)

No single approach to fighting gang violence in El Salvador will be sufficient. Prevention efforts like these soccer leagues help combat gang recruitment. Other efforts are needed to strengthen Salvadoran families, to improve the effectiveness of the police and the courts, and to provide opportunities for employment for young adults. There will be no quick fixes.


El-Visitador said…
Midnight basketball, anyone?

Isn't it fun how laughingstock discredited ideas from the US/Europe get recycled back to backward countries?

Midnight basketball as solution to inner city crime, a loony idea sponsored by US lefties, became part of the "social problems industry," i.e., the rather profitable NGO business of collecting money from taxpayers and spending it in feel-good, achieve-nothing activities. The claim that this solves anything is dismissed by most scholars.

Fortunately, Tim inserts some realism into the discussion: what's really needed is "to improve the effectiveness of the police and the courts, and to provide opportunities for employment for young adults." Tim's suggestions, of course, bring a modicum of adult common sense into an otherwise loony discussion.

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By the way, here is a paper from the European Physical Education Review, Vol. 10, No. 3, 279-298 (2004), which outlines the pathetic truth:

"do such schemes work? [...] even where success for them is claimed, it is unclear what specific aspects of the schemes account for that claimed success."

Academically, that's verbiage for saying: this is a nincompoop idea dreamt by hustlers and starry-eyed naïfs.
Unknown said…
My name is Rusty Keeble and I have worked gangs since 1994 and served as both the Florida and the National (USA) President for the gang investigators associations for the past 6 years serving more than 20,000 gang professionals around the world, to include El Salvador.

I have had the opportunity to travel to El Salvador several times where we have implemented numerous enforcement initiatives through attending the annual Anti-Gang Conference put on by the El Salvadorian Government and the United States (FBI).

The things that are going on in El Salvador and other parts of Central America are unbelievable and many things has to be done to address it. I think that outlets such as Soccer, Basketball and other programs are vital to prevent gangs from growing.

I have established the Rusty Keeble Foundation and the new global anti-gang initiative called the GANGFREE Project. I am currently talking with members of the law enforcement community and we are working towards bringing the GANGFREE Project to El Salvador and other parts of Central America. We have to get the community and the family involved in the efforts of government and law enforcement for show of solidarity to combat gang violence. We need to build an Army - A GANGFREEE Project Army!

We need everyone's help. Let's stop talking about the problem and start doing something about it.

Thank you,

Rusty Keeble