Comunidad Connect inaugurated the San Juan del Sur Sports Park in 2007, thus beginning a new chapter for youth sports in the coastal fishing town of Southwest Nicaragua. CC introduced futsal and basketball leagues and hosted exhibition volleyball games, tournaments, and after-school activities. 11 years later, CC runs the municipal little league baseball program and has 500 young athletes in its youth development program, playing over 500 games a year.
Noel Victor Alvarez
Noel Alvarez Sr. has devoted his life to promoting and organizing sports; particularly soccer. So when Comunidad Connect came to town in 2007, Noel was involved from the start. It was the first time “futsala” or court soccer was introduced to San Juan del Sur and it quickly gained popularity. For Noel, the CC leagues not only promoted organized sports but also social work, solidarity within peers and personal growth. “It is something transformational…for others and for me, to be a better person.” For 11 years, Noel as worked as a referee and has relentlessly inspired the youth of San Juan to attend a game, join a team and get involved in their community.
Although the relationship with Comunidad Connect began with Noel Sr, the entire Sadino family has joined the movement. Read on to learn more about how each of them has become an integral piece of the puzzle in their community, and with Comunidad Connect.
Noel Sandino Jr.
For Noel Sandino, there have been two constants in his life: soccer and the sports park. Finding a love for the game at a young age and being surrounded by a supportive family cemented is trajectory as an athlete. Now at 20 years old, he works as futsala referee and team organizer while continuing to pursue his own athletic career. He is the only Sanjuaneño to be selected to play for the national team for his age group. Giving much credit to the sports programming of his youth, Noel reflected, “more than anything, I thank CC for the fundamental role they play in the development of organized sports in San Juan del Sur and the development of individual athletes”.
“It’s more than just a sporks park; its a secure place for kids”, says 28 year old Nohelia Sandino. She calls the “cancha” a “San Juan del Sur custom now”, spending most of her evenings strolling down to the Sports Park to join other families for a calm evening in the company of youth. She loves that parents come to watch their kids, and has seen the community grow closer and more engaged over the years. Having played in the soccer leagues herself, Nohelia feels the programs and presence of CC is an integral part of the city and to other communities where they work as well.
“A super happy space full of value that has a great history and future,” is how Guadalupe Sandino describes the San Juan del Sur Sports Park. As the matriarch of a very active family, she gives thanks to CC for the how program has helped strengthened her husband and children. The moments they have spent together in different activities have created lasting memories and tightened family bonds. Attending matches daily has become so much a part of her life, such that “it is very disappointing when it rains and we can’t go the sports park!”