Colombian-born MLB pitcher Julio Alberto Teheran was in the slum areas of Cartagena to launch “Beisbol por la Paz”, a program that aims to prevent juvenile delinquency in Cartagena and Medellin.
Cartagena de las Indias-Colombia On Friday 11/18 the city of Cartagena in Colombia hosted the launch of “Beisbol por la paz”. The 3-year program (in English Baseball for Peace) aims to bring structure and supervision into the lives of marginalized young people from 8 to 16 years old drawn to violence and street gangs in two of the most unsafe cities in Colombia.
The program is led by the Colombian (Federaciòn Colombiana de Beisbol) and the International Baseball Federation (IBAF), in collaboration with Peace and Sport, L’Organisation pour la Paix par le Sport (in English: “The organization for peace through sport”) with the support of Major League Baseball (MLB), Ecopetrol, Kenko, Grupo Internacional de la Paz andFundauniban.
Psychosocial professionals and sports educators will work hand in hand to teach vulnerable young girls and boys respect for the Rules of the Game, both in baseball and in society. As part of the program, the specific dynamics between baseball players and the intrinsic values of the sport will be used as educational vehicles to spread messages of tolerance, dignity, self-esteem and non-violent confrontation necessary to lead a better life and foster a culture of peace.
Ultimately, the program’s methodology aims to reduce violence and juvenile delinquency, increase youngsters’ resilience and facilitate reconciliation between communities that are victims of armed gangs.
Julio Alberto Teheran launched the program as a Champion for Peace, the name given to a group of over 60 international athletes committed to serve peace in the world through sport, an initiative created by Peace and Sport.
Teheran was born in 1991 and grew up in Cartagena’s slums, he signed his first professional contract in 2008 for the Atlanta Braves as an undrafted free agent. He pitched 6 games in his first season at the Rookie Level and 7 the year after. In 2010 he worked his way up to Double A, where he was voted a League All Star, participated in the Futures All Star Game and tagged as a top prospect. Considered the number 1 prospect of the Atlanta organization, he started 24games for the Gwinnet Braves of the AAA International League in 2011 and made his debut in the Big Leagues on May 7th.
Talking about “Beisbol por la Paz”, Julio Teheran said: “I am extremely proud and happy to inaugurate this project today. Baseball has brought me so much in life, enabling me to live from my passion, to be recognized by many and to be the person I am today having fully integrated baseball’s values in my daily life. It is a great pleasure to now be able to give back to society and especially to my country through the game.”
Joel Bouzou, President and Founder of Peace and Sport, declared: “The presence of such a champion as Julio at the launch of ‘Beisbol por la Paz’ is crucial to the program’s success. He knows how to communicate his passion for baseball to children and show them all that this sport has brought him on a personal level. This is the best source of inspiration you could ever dream of for these kids who need role models and new benchmarks in life.”
Riccardo Fraccari, IBAF President said: “Beyond the sporting values related to the game, IBAF and the game of baseball can also play a role in civic education, socialization and citizenship. We are extremely pleased to contribute to this program that will change the lives of hundreds of young people in vulnerable situations in Colombia.”
Beisbol por la Paz is also supported by baseball legend and Champion for Peace Edgar Renteria.
The program will be implemented in 5 youth centres/clubs in Medellin and Cartagena. Designed as a pilot project, it will be duplicated and transformed into a national program called ‘Beisboleritos’ by the Colombian Baseball Federation with the support of the organization “Grupo Internacional de la Paz” at a later stage.
Peace and Sport and IBAF signed a partnership in 2010 to pioneer activities promoting reconciliation, dialogue and social stability in the most volatile countries through baseball. The “Beisbol por la Paz” program is the first fruit of this partnership
Eric Bynum is Managing Editor here at BaseballdeWorld. He spent three years as an ESL teacher in South Korea, and is now working on his master's degree in history with a focus on baseball and WWII. He has played and/or written about baseball for the past 30 years and is an avid Atlanta Braves fan.