Ciudad México celebrates the opening of a new safe space to play and learn
Home to programs teaching young people employability skills through sports
Community leaders, local residents, and youth gathered in Xochimilco, Mexico City on Tuesday, August 7 to participate in the opening of a new multifunctional sports court dedicated to the local community and its residents.
Representatives of ESPN, love.futbol, A Ganar, Street Soccer Mexico and the local community came together for a ribbon cutting ceremony to officially open the new safe space in Santiaguito, Xochimilco
The court and surrounding area, refurbished with the help of community residents and ESPN and Disney employees, will be home to ongoing programs for young people where they will learn job skills and be empowered to fulfill their potential, all through the power of sports. The program was developed by award-winning organization, A Ganar, which uses sports as a vehicle to provide communities across Latin America with training and skills that lead to employment and enables young people to achieve success in life. Local sport for development organization, Street Soccer México, has been trained in the A Ganar methodology and will deliver the program over the next eight months on the new space.
Commuity members kick off the first game on the new court
ESPN commentators Miroslava Montemayor and Sergio Dipp hosted the inauguration. They were joined by Russell Wolff, executive vice president and managing director, ESPN International and Gerardo Casanova, vice president and general manager, Latin America North. Community volunteers who helped build the space, local residents and their families, and ESPN and Disney employees also took part in the event. The celebration included cultural performances, a special recognition of community leaders who volunteered their time to the project, as well as soccer matches open to the community.
Local folklore dance groups performed at the inauguration
“At ESPN we believe that sport has the ability to transform lives, and we are committed to providing resources to enable kids in Mexico City to play sports,” said Russell Wolff, executive vice president and managing director, ESPN International. “This is our second safe space build in Mexico City and we are pleased to collaborate with love.fútbol, A Ganar, Beyond Sport, and Street Soccer Mexico once again to build this court in a community where there is a need, as it can truly make a difference.”
Russell Wolff, executive vice president and managing director, ESPN International, celebrated with youth from the community
Daniel Copto, CEO and President, Street Soccer México said, “As with our first build together in Chimalhuacán, our goal is to improve the quality of life of marginalized youth and vulnerable communities in Mexico. The Xochimilco safe space is an opportunity for young people to use sport to find their way in life and also to provide training for future employment,” said
love.fútbol, which is known for building community sports facilities all over the world, played a key role in selecting Santiaguito, Xochimilco for the new play space based on need, population and socio-economic status – and specifically because of the severe damage the community suffered as a result of the 2017 earthquake.
Gerardo Casanova, vice president & general manager for ESPN Latin America North, spoke on what it means to open a spacein Mexico city where ESPN is based
“Given everything this community has gone through over the last year, we’re proud to team up with local and global organizations to ensure that young people in this community have access to a safe, accessible place to play sports,” said Gerardo Casanova, vice president and general manager, Latin America North. “We are thrilled to have been part of the build along with community residents and to be able to support this community with sports programs that inspire social change.”
The global project, led by ESPN, has now seen six spaces built across Latin America and one in Southeast Asia, including: Bogotá, Colombia; Mexico City and Chimalhuacán, Mexico; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, Brazil; and Bangalore, India.
Photo credits: Renato Miller
NOTES TO EDITORS
ESPN Corporate Citizenship: ESPN believes that, at its very best, sports uplift the human spirit. Its corporate citizenship programs use the power of sport to positively address society’s needs through strategic community investments, cause marketing programs, collaboration with sports organizations and employee volunteerism, while also utilizing its diverse media assets.
ESPN Latin America/Caribbean: Launched in 1989, ESPN’s pan-regional Latin America network transmits to 18 countries and territories, in high definition, divided by North, South, Brazilian and Caribbean feeds to better serve the fans in each region, broadcasting in Spanish, Portuguese and English. ESPN is currently available in over 39.5 million homes in the region. ESPN offers regional networks that include ESPN, ESPN2 (Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay), ESPN 2 (Bolivia, Chile, Perú), ESPN 2 (Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela), ESPN+-; - ESPN Brasil; ESPN+; ESPN Extra, and ESPN3, which was introduced in 2011 as the first ESPN network in the region available via television, computers, tablets and mobile. ESPN3 has two feeds (North and South) to better serve the region. ESPN offers a wide variety of sports events relevant to each market in Spanish-speaking Latin America, including UEFA Champions League, La Liga, English Premier League, Bundesliga, Serie A, Ligue 1, Liga MX, all major soccer leagues and events, golf, cricket, rugby, tennis, MLB, motor sports, NBA, NFL, etc.
love.fútbol: love.fútbol creates community sports fields that act as community centers and catalysts for sustainable social change. For this project, love.fútbol managed the engagement of the community, ensuring that they were involved from the outset. They oversaw the construction of the sports space and helped facilitate local leadership and ownership of the space to ensure long-term sustainability. They led on identifying the community selected for the project and facilitated the local partnerships that enabled the project to occur.
A Ganar: Led by Partners of the Americas, the A Ganar Alliance combats youth unemployment in Latin America and the Caribbean using team sports. In essence, A Ganar is a youth employment program wrapped inside of a ball. At-risk youth, ages 16-24, acquire marketable job expertise by building on six core sport-based skills: teamwork, communication, discipline, respect, a focus on results, and continual self-improvement. In 7-9 months, youth learn life and vocational skills and complete internships with local businesses. They learn to bring the best values of sport and apply them to the workplace.
Street Soccer México: Street Soccer México is a non-profit organization that seeks to improve the lives of individuals living in marginalized communities due to distinct circumstances. Using sport as a catalyst for social change, they foster positive experiences for participants so that they can stay away from negative influences such as living on the streets, drugs, and other substance abuse; and at the same time be able to rebuild an image of dignity and respect for themselves. Their training sessions and participation in tournaments are gateways in this transformative process, where an individual can surpass living in marginalization to become an "active citizen".
Por Amor a Xochimilco: Provides comprehensive social assistance to strengthen families and community development to social groups with desired objectives guided by innovation, ethics and respect for people, the environment and culture.
thinkBeyond: thinkBeyond helps organizations and people that do good, do it better through sport. As the consultancy arm of Beyond Sport, they are the global experts in providing consultancy and strategy delivery to brands, sports leagues and teams, federations, talent and governments who want to do good business and create positive social change. Having helped develop this initiative with ESPN, thinkBeyond now supports in the implementation of the project around the world.
ESPN EXECUTIVES & COMMENTATORS - BIOGRAPHIES
Russell Wolff became executive vice president of ESPN International in November 2004 after having served as senior vice president. He has served as managing director since June 2002. Based out of ESPN International’s New York City headquarters, Wolff is fully responsible for all of ESPN’s international businesses in over 61 countries and territories across all seven continents, which include partial or whole ownership of 26 networks televised outside of the United States, a broad portfolio of leading online and mobile brands and services, and radio businesses in five countries. He also oversees a variety of ancillary international businesses including consumer products, broadband and syndication.
Among his accomplishments with ESPN, Wolff has been responsible for guiding ESPN’s digital expansion around the world, including the launch of mobile, online and streaming platforms, and for spearheading a project to establish ESPN’s first branded television network in Europe and the growth of networks in the rest of the EMEA region. As executive vice-president, Wolff has also been a key driver of ESPN’s continued growth and leadership in Latin America. Under his direction, the company has grown into a multimedia business that includes 13 television networks, the most diverse portfolio of programming and sports events, and the operation of production facilities and offices in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico to further localize the business offerings.
A graduate of Dartmouth College, Wolff has an A.B. degree and an M.B.A. from its Amos Tuck School of Business Administration. He serves on the boards of CTV Specialty Television, Inc. and the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Wolff also serves as an advisor on the television council of FIBA, the international Basketball Federation.
Gerardo Casanova serves as vice president and general manager for ESPN Latin America North (Mexico and Central America), joining the company in December 2005. He is based in ESPN’s Mexico City offices where he heads the Disney and ESPN Media Networks for the Latin-American North region.
Among other activities Casanova is responsible for all of ESPN’s business in Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panamá, Venezuela and Mexico (North Latin). Prior to joining ESPN, Casanova served as director of International Business for Grupo Televisa. In this role, he was responsible for international strategy and new business development, including the creation of Televisa Home Entertainment. Earlier in his career, Casanova held several positions with Mexico’s Ministry of Economics, including Chief Advisor to the Undersecretary of Economics, where he advised on issues relating to business, trade, and technology policy.
Casanova has a B.A. degree in Economics from the Anahuac University as well as a Doctoral in Political Economy, a Masters in Politics, Economics and Business from the Claremont University and The Peter F. Druker School of Management USA. He also has Graduate Studies in Global Finance from the London School of Economics.
Miroslava Montemayor joined ESPN December 2015, serving as a reporter for NFL Live, ESPN’s NFL-related news and information program and co-hosts ESPN’s mid-afternoon show Los Capitanes. Since joining ESPN, Miroslava has worked several marquee sporting events, including the 2018 FIFA World Cup, El Abierto Mexicano de Tenis Acapulco, Los Cabos Open and the OHL Classic Mayakoba, the only PGA golf tournament outside the US and Canada.
Miroslava started her career in sportscasting in Monterrey, where she worked for TV Azteca Noreste. There, she covered several high profile events, including the 2015 Pro Bowl and Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale, Arizona. She also covered for the Tigres de la UANL in their university stadium.
Montemayor studied Business Administration with specialty in Industrial Engineering. Also, won Nuestra Belleza Internacional México 2013 and represented Mexico at Miss International 2013.
Sergio Dipp joined ESPN in 2013 as an anchor for the network’s flagship program, SportsCenter. He also hosts the weekday NFL news and information show NFL Live.
One of ESPN’s most versatile voices, Dipp has served as sideline reporter for Monday Night Football telecasts in English and Spanish, ESPN’s and he has covered four Super Bowls (XLVIII, XLIX, 50, LI). Dipp is also one of ESPN’s regular voices covering the Mexico National Football team. He’s also covered marquee soccer events for ESPN, including the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Dipp, a native of Mexicali, Mexico, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Communications from Tecnológico de Monterrey, where he played college football for Borregos Salvajes Tec de Monterrey for three seasons.