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Salesians Partner with Spanish Football Club, Foster Children Sports in Equatorial Guinea

Some of the Equatorial Guinea beneficiaries of the socio-sports project between Real Madrid and Salesian Mission Office in Spain.

Members of the Religious Institute of the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB) have partnered with Real Madrid, a Spain-based professional football club to support sporting activities among vulnerable children in Equatorial Guinea.

Through the partnership, officials of the Real Madrid Foundation and Salesian Missions office in Spain have launched a socio-sports project at Don Bosco School located in the country’s Catholic Archdiocese of Malabo.

In a Wednesday March 3 report obtained by ACI Africa, the leadership of SDB in Equatorial Guinea says that from Monday to Friday, boys and girls aged 9-17 engage in sports and recreational activities “specially designed for them” at the Salesian school.

According to the report, the Salesian School is one of the 21 socio-sports schools opened in 14 countries across three continents, through the collaboration of the two Spain-based entities.

In engaging in football and basketball, the boys and girls “learn the values of team play, but also improve their eating habits, hygiene and academic performance,” SDB officials say.

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They add, “For kids, sport is an outlet and a means of socialization that helps them develop on a human and educational level.”

Among the beneficiaries of the socio-sports project is 16-year-old Mayoka who plays basketball for the Don Bosco School.

“What I like most is the joy and the atmosphere of camaraderie between us. They help us with our studies and we really enjoy learning the sport we like; indeed, we wouldn't mind if it were every day of the week!” Mayoka has been quoted as saying in the report.

During the first quarter of an academic year, SDB members in Malabo help the children know their fellow participants in the games and explain the activities, with friendly tournaments, while in the second quarter, “the emphasis is on training the coaches and supporting the project beneficiaries in the studies, through reinforcement lessons.”

While COVID-19 restrictions halted the sporting activities, the members of the 162-year-old Religious Institute say they have now resumed the events while observing the laid down protocols such as frequent sanitizing, wearing of masks, and social distancing.

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“What does not change, despite the circumstances, in the socio-sports schools of the Real Madrid Foundation is the joy and the motto that benefits thousands of vulnerable children all over the world: ‘They play, we educate,’” SDB members say in the March 3 report published by Agenzia Info Salesiana, the information service of the Religious Institute.

Founded in 1859 by 19th century Italian educator, St. John Bosco, SDB members strive to be at the service of young people, especially the poorest and most abandoned.