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Sandals turn ocean trash in football dreams

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.

In connection to the recent June 1 opening of the brand new Sandals Royal Curaçao, Sandals Resorts International (SRI) and its philanthropic arm, the Sandals Foundation, joined forces with the Netherlands’ AFC Ajax team to launch Future Goals – a program 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 begins at primary schools across the Dutch Caribbean island, where MGR Niewindt College students received the first set of Future Goals last month ahead of the resort’s opening.

“When it comes to our communities in the Caribbean, we have a great responsibility to take care of our islands and our people,” said Adam Stewart, Executive Chairman of SRI.

“Curaçao is a new island for Sandals and a new opportunity to expand our impact — and ‘football’ is the soul of the Caribbean. If we can give children the tools to play and in the process teach them about protecting our planet — that is a ‘goal’ in and of itself.”

FROM FISHING NETS TO ‘FOOTBALL’ GOALS

The first phase of the partnership includes 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, and is 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.

“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 – and this one-of-a-kind partnership with Ajax is a sign of our promise to generations to come.”

Additional Resources:

–  More information on the Future Goals program

– Future Goals ‘About’ Video

–  Future Goals ‘Campaign’ Video

–  Contribute to the Future Goals program via the Sandals Foundation

About the Sandals Foundation

The Sandals Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Sandals Resorts International (SRI), the Caribbean’s leading family-owned resort company.  The 501(c)(3) non-profit organization was created to continue and expand upon the charitable work that Sandals Resorts International has undertaken since its founding in 1981 to play a meaningful role in the lives of the communities where SRI operates throughout the Caribbean. The Sandals Foundation funds projects in three core areas: education, community and the environment. One hundred per cent of the monies contributed by the general public to the Sandals Foundation go directly to programs benefiting the Caribbean community. To learn more about the Sandals Foundation, visit online or on social media @sandalsfdn.

About Sandals Resorts International

Founded in 1981 by the late Jamaican entrepreneur Gordon “Butch” Stewart, Sandals Resorts International (SRI) is the parent company of some of travel’s most recognizable vacation brands. The company operates 24 properties throughout the Caribbean under four separate brands including: Sandals® Resorts, the Luxury Included® brand for adult couples with locations in Jamaica, Antigua, the Bahamas, Grenada, Barbados, St. Lucia and a resort opening in Curaçao on June 1st; Beaches® Resorts, the Luxury Included® concept designed for everyone but especially families, with properties in Turks & Caicos and Jamaica, and another opening in St. Vincent and the Grenadines; private island Fowl Cay Resort; and the private homes of Your Jamaican Villas. Family-owned and operated, Sandals Resorts International is the largest private employer in the region. For more information, visit Sandals Resorts International.

About AJAX

Founded in 1900 in Amsterdam, Ajax is the record-holding champion of Dutch football, with four Champions League titles and 36 Dutch championships, earning a name for themselves in European football and beyond. Notorious for their creative, brave and always forward approach to the game, the team comprises young talent from its academy and all over the world. Ajax has shaped some of the greatest players the world has ever seen — athletes like Johan Cruijff, Luis Suarez and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, to name a few – believing today’s youth are the legends of tomorrow. The team’s academy is voted number one over and over again, holding the highest percentage of trained players who reach professional football status. Each year, new exceptional talent reaches Ajax 1, ultimately earning their place among top European athletes such as Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong.

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About the author

Juergen T Steinmetz

Juergen Thomas Steinmetz has continuously worked in the travel and tourism industry since he was a teenager in Germany (1977).
He founded eTurboNews in 1999 as the first online newsletter for the global travel tourism industry.

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