Engaging youth leaders
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Jaykler is a 23-year-old activist who believes that being confident and getting involved with NGOs is a good way for youth to start leading in the sport for development field.

Youth can participate in leadership roles in sports through understanding their benefit. Beyond being a healthy practice for people, sport is one of the most powerful tools to generate opportunities in terms of inclusivity, development of soft skills, inspiring others and creating communities with healthier environments, free of negative lifestyles. From the recent Olympics, we can see how sports are the way for Olympic athletes to communicate a message in support of something, for example, to support the fight against racism, homophobia and all kinds of discrimination.

Sports make us feel good and they are enablers to consolidate accessible communities for all, regardless of any barriers. That is how we can be changemakers and raise our voices to influence policy agendas of our countries in order to be and set up the change that we want for all of us.

Most of the time, youth feel powerless, and they think that their ideas and opinions don`t get heard, because they are young or don’t have a job. But I can tell you, whether you are a high school student, freshman at your college or a part time employee, you can make an impact wherever you are.

Of course, it is necessary to show a confident attitude but make no mistake about it, but you can! The first step is always the hardest, but it will take you out of your comfort zone and then, you will see the victory over your fears and inferiority complex.

I used to be shy, and it was difficult for me to explain myself and my ideas, but I was inspired by many mentors in my life. That`s exactly what I want to share with you, to inspire you with my story.

I was a 19-year-old Costa Rican boy who was selected to represent his country in a United Nations conference in 2019. Nobody believed it, but when you are confident in yourself, nothing can stop you. There is something that you need to embrace and that is, if you can dream it, you can do it! Get involved with that mission, with that NGO, with that entrepreneurial spirit, with that project.

When it comes to leadership roles, first of all, youth must understand that they have to be brave enough to step up and to keep up over the challenges that they are going to face along the way. It is true, that is a real challenge, but the following can help to manage the engagement in sports leadership roles:

  • Be a team player, you are not alone.
  • Ask for advice from people who inspire you.
  • Commit yourself to your goals, your passion will inspire others.
  • Encourage and improve yourself continuously.
  • Build confidence from others around you.

One of the best ways to get involved with roles of leadership in sports is by gathering with your friends from your community and to try to identify how sports can help to manage bad environments and then you will see how help from NGOs can support your goals in your community. You can also look for international cooperation, but first you need to be part of a formal organization, so you may gain access to better opportunities.

Be the one who makes the change, look for partners, learn from other leaders, identify how you can help in your community and be brave to step up! Our time is now!


Jaykler Joel Mercado Olivas is a 23-year-old activist for social and environmental activities with several NGOs in Costa Rica. He works for the main company of telecommunications and technology in Costa Rica and studies Industrial Engineering at LEAD University. In 2018, Jaykler took part in the Sports Visitor Program, an initiative of the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ Sports Diplomacy Division and administered by FHI 360 (www.sportsvisitor.org).


Costa Rica
Latin America and the Caribbean
Football (Soccer)
Sustainable Development Goals
4 – Quality education
Target Group

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