Sambo representatives with their Peace and Sport award ©FIAS

Peace and Sport have awarded the Maria Guedez Foundation and the International Sambo Federation (FIAS)  the "In memory of Guo Chan: coup de Coeur" award thanks to their work in Venezuela.

The project was started by Maria Guedez who, upon her return to Venezuela after winning the 2015 sambo world title, was given an upgrade on her flat by the Venezuelan Government.

Despite the more comfortable surroundings in her new home, she noticed that there were a lot of underprivileged children on the streets in her neighbourhood and so was determined to help.

She invited the children to come and train with her in the gym and thus the idea of the Maria Guedez Foundation was born.

Guedez then contacted FIAS for support and they were able to provide a proper structure and training equipment for her Foundation in Venezuela.

Help also came from Laure Fournier, a Sambo representative in Peace and Sport’s Champions for Peace club and the Montpellier Sporting Club Sambo in France.

The Foundation stretches far beyond sport and focuses on more important aspects of life.

For example, children involved in the Foundation are required to prove they are attending school and receiving a good education.

Additional help is given by sending everyday hygiene products for the children to use, showing that the project stretches well beyond the sport itself.

The Foundation also provides a daily meal to the children, sometimes their only one of the day, thanks to local donors who have enabled the opening of a canteen.

Sambo champion Maria Guedez, far left, set up a foundation in her homeland of Venezuela to help underprivileged children ©Maria Guedez Foundation
Sambo champion Maria Guedez, far left, set up a foundation in her homeland of Venezuela to help underprivileged children ©Maria Guedez Foundation

The project also has a large focus on sexual education as girls in Venezuela often find themselves pregnant at a very early age.

One-quarter of Venezuelan girls under 16 are pregnant, hindering their chance of receiving a good education and gaining qualifications.

After receiving their award at Peace and Sport, FIAS representatives spoke to insidethegames of their pride following years of working with Peace and Sport.

FIAS representatives also stressed the importance of the award,  voted by over 40 Champions for Peace.

"It shows that these people, who work in all kinds of difficult environments and sports, can see what we are doing and are impressed," the FIAS chief executive officer said.

These are seen as just the first steps in an ambitious plan by FIAS to take their project to all National Federations.

This recognition from Peace and Sport also gives Sambo the platform to push for Olympic recognition as they have proved that their sport is international, rather than predominantly Russian, while also shown their ability to create a legacy.