On June 16, for the first time in 36 years, Peru will return to the men’s World Cup finals when they kick-off against Denmark in Saransk, Russia. A month later, the first girls team from Peru to qualify through the SKF Meet The World tournament will be in Gothenburg, Sweden, to play in the world’s largest youth soccer tournament.
In line with a shared ambition to promote teamwork, responsibility and equal opportunity, SKF started the Meet the World pre-tournaments in 2007, to give children who otherwise can’t afford to travel to Sweden, the chance to come to Gothenburg and be part of the Gothia Cup.
This summer, after winning SKF Meet the World pre-tournaments in their respective countries during the spring, six teams from the Americas will travel eastwards across the Atlantic Ocean to play in the Gothia Cup. Reflecting the growing interest in women’s football in the region, three of these countries will be represented by girls teams: Peru, Mexico & Canada.
We caught up with Ursula Valdez Lizárraga, a Human Development Supervisor at SKF, who is busy organizing the Meet the World pre-tournament in Peru, taking place in Lima on March 24.
Please tell us something about yourself.
“I’ve worked at SKF for two years. Soccer is my passion. It fascinates me and I’ve played since I was thirteen years old.”
How many times has a team from Peru participated in SKF Meet The World/Gothia Cup?
“Just once. Back in 2007.”
Why did SKF Peru choose to be part of Meet the World/Gothia Cup this year?
“This year, SKF is celebrating a hundred years in Peru. Our participation in Gothia Cup is part of these celebrations.”
Why did you choose the age group Girls 12?
“For numerous reasons, it has been difficult for young Peruvian women to play soccer. This is a reality we want to change. This project gives us the opportunity to get seriously involved on this matter. We want to empower young girls to participate in sport. This is the first time in Peruvian history that a female championship for twelve-year old’s is being organized.”
What are you looking forward to most about Meet The World and Gothia Cup?
“Giving the girls the opportunity to travel abroad to meet other cultures, new people, and different realities. Moreover, we also want them to see and realize that soccer is a sport for women, not just men.”
How popular is soccer in Peru?
“It is the most important and popular sport that attracts crowds of people in our country.”
How many girls play?
“Approximately 305,000 in a population of 32 million. So that’s a very low average that we want to increase.”
Peru qualified for the men’s soccer World Cup this year. The first time in 36 years. What does that mean for the country?
“It is an amazing and wonderful moment for all of us. I am 31 years old and I never had the chance to watch the Peruvian soccer team participate in the World Cup. Right now, we feel very excited and we are very proud of the Peruvian team performance. People here used to wear soccer shirts from different countries, but now we see people walking in the streets of our country, wearing Peruvian soccer shirts with pride and happiness.”
2018 SKF Meet the World teams from the Americas
Argentina Boys 12
Brazil Boys 14
Canada Girls 13
Chile Boys 14
Colombia Boys 15
Mexico Girls 12
Peru Girls 12
SKF Meet the World pre-tournaments
• Started in 2007
• Arranged each year in approx. 25 countries where you find SKF
• 42 countries have participated
• 27 000 players
• 3 500 of whom SKF have brought to Gothenburg – all expenses paid
For more information about SKF Meet the World, visit meet-the-world.com
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