Sandals teams up with Ajax to empower Caribbean youth through soccer
Continuing to strengthen the transformative link between tourism and the empowerment of its local Caribbean communities, Sandals Resorts International’s philanthropic arm, the Sandals Foundation, has joined forces with the Netherlands’ AFC Ajax team to launch Future Goals – a programme that turns fishing nets sourced from the ocean and recycled plastic waste into soccer goals for children.
Expanding opportunities for locals through the power of youth sports, particularly the beloved game known locally as football, the landmark partnership kicks off at primary schools across the Dutch Caribbean island of Curaçao – where the programme’s official launch was celebrated at MGR Niewindt College as students received the first set of Future Goals.
“Future Goals brilliantly encapsulates Sandals’ unwavering commitment to empower our islands in the Caribbean through our philanthropic arm, the Sandals Foundation, and our core pillars of education, environment and community,” said Heidi Clarke, Executive Director of the Sandals Foundation. “Enveloping ourselves in the destination was part of the blueprint as we rolled out the plans for Sandals Royal Curaçao – a new island for Sandals and a new opportunity to expand our impact – and this one-of-a-kind partnership with Ajax is a sign of our promise to generations to come.”
FROM THE OCEAN, FOR THE FUTURE
Fishing nets lost at sea, also known as ghost nets, make up nearly half of the world’s ‘plastic soup’ – a term for the accumulation of waste, including plastic, that ends up in the ocean. To help mitigate this global concern, the Sandals Foundation and AFC Ajax have tapped into local Curaçaon plastic recycling company, Limpi, whose creative approach to plastic waste recycling and product development now includes the colorful Future Goals goal posts, which are made almost entirely of fishing nets collected from the sea and recycled plastic waste.
Plans to outfit four dozen elementary schools throughout the island of Curaçao with close to 100 Future Goals and more than 600 soccer balls provided by Adidas, are complemented by a unique training program with AFC Ajax coaches at the helm. Coaches will mentor ‘Future Coaches’ recruited by the local Curaçao life skills program, Favela Street, on a robust eight-week curriculum for the children that will focus as much on technique as it does mindset in order to foster the next generation. Overarching plans for the Future Goals program include an island-wide tournament featuring all participating primary schools, as well as expansion into additional Caribbean islands, with the program to be adapted based on the unique scope of each destination.
“Ajax is on a mission to impact the future of football on a global level, starting with the youth, our next generation,” said Edwin van der Sar, CEO AFC Ajax. “Together with Sandals Resorts and the Sandals Foundation, we are eager to facilitate impactful football programs for children in Curaçao and the rest of the Caribbean, realizing tomorrow’s opportunities through today’s fun.”
AN ISLAND-FIRST APPROACH TO TOURISM
Since its inception in 1981, Sandals Resorts has taken an unparalleled approach to supporting the communities where it operates. Through its philanthropic arm, the Sandals Foundation, the luxury all-inclusive resort company began its work in Curaçao – Sandals Resorts’ seventh and newest Caribbean island – far ahead of Sandals Royal Curaçao’s opening. This includes supporting local artisans, such as Limpi, to whom the Sandals Foundation has provided the necessary equipment needed to increase their production levels.
Future Goals is one of the many projects underway on the island of Curaçao for the Sandals Foundation, including beach cleanups that have helped rid the planet of over 400,000 kilograms of trash to date, and the development of a digital hiking app in partnership with IVN Tiny Forest the Netherlands to make the magic of the island’s natural resources more accessible to visitors and locals.
“To deliver the first set of Future Goals ahead of the resort opening, and be on our way on a number of other initiatives, is a symbol of our commitment to the destination and the powerful, lasting link between tourism and community development,” said Kevin Clarke, General Manager of Sandals Royal Curaçao. “It’s our responsibility not only to ensure that we’re sharing this beautiful part of the world with our guests, but that we’re protecting and preserving it for the locals who make it feel like home to all who visit.”