December 6: New Community Sports Center’s Grand Opening

community sports center sign

A new sign mural welcomes the community to the Community Sports Center.

paso del norteYears of planning and months of intense labor culminated on Sunday, December 6 in the Grand Opening of a new recreational facility in Palomas: the Community Sports Center. Border Partners conceived this idea years ago after visiting a stadium for futbol rapido in a Mexican municipality. When Phillip Skinner permitted the use of his building and the Paso del Norte Foundation granted major funding for building  renovation, work began in earnest. Juan Rason and the health promotoras (health promoters) spearheaded the project, with assistance from Peter Edmunds of Border Partners’ U.S. staff.

Juan Rascon (l) & Peter Edmunds (r)

Juan Rascon (l) & Peter Edmunds (r)


Mexican civil authorities, including the Municipal Mayor and other officials from Ascención, the local regional capital, as well as the local mayor of Puerto Palomas de Villa and his wife all attended the late morning dedication ceremony. These leaders addressed the attendees, expressing their appreciation for the new facility and of Border Partners for its dedicated investment in the area. Peter Edmunds expressed appreciation for the many local residents whose hours of labor completed the project.


2 courts of action

Exhibition games of volleyball (foreground) and soccer (background) played simultaneously. Soon after, a girls’ basketball scrimmage occupied the third court.

A disc jockey entertained attendees with pop music throughout the day and during the series of exhibition games that followed the ribbon cutting ceremony. Hundreds attended the event, and all were treated to delicious home made beans.


All attendees enjoyed delicious homemade beans.

We were amazed and grateful for the tremendous support we received from the community in this project. Hundreds of volunteer hours contributed to the completion of the facility. Significant community investment in and ownership of the sports center is already apparent.

The complex will be used by local soccer leagues and will also be available for free play and casual games. Construction of the sports center allows three simultaneous games: soccer, volleyball and basketball.

New Community Sports Center puts focus on sustainability

Construction of the new Community Sports Center in Palomas models Border Partners values of people-centered development and sustainability.

Construction of the new Community Sports Center in Palomas models Border Partners values of people-centered development and sustainability.

The new Community Sports Center in Palomas–a major Border Partners project to improve life in Palomas–models Border Partner’s value for sustainability and people-centered development. A project that’s been years in process and several months in direct development, the sports center building makes the best possible use of resources that are available in the town to stretch funding dollars and accomplish more. In concept and in implementation, the Community Sports Center reflects Border Partners’ commitment to sustainable and community-centered development.

Building Re-purposing

A building that was built as a factory, but never actually used, had fallen into disrepair and begun collecting debris. When Border Partners approached owner Phillip Skinner with a proposal to re-purpose the building into a community sports center, he generously agreed to allow the building to serve that use.

Basic rehabilitation of the building required months of clean-up and many trips to the landfill for the small crew that began  work. They had to clear the facility and the area that surrounded it of dozens of small trees and also thorny bushes that had grown to up to 5′ in height.

The area was littered with broken glass, plastic bags and garbage. Workers cleared all this before construction of the facility could begin. The project essentially rehabilitated a city block, turning an eyesore and sanitation hazard into a town asset.

Dry toilet under construction

Dry toilet under construction

Sustainable Sanitation

Promoting sustainable sanitation is a hallmark of Border Partners. We’ve promoted and built dry toilets since our earliest days, installing them in various places in Palomas. Dry toilets offer sanitation at low cost, because they do not require water, connections  to city sewage lines or elaborate septic systems. So, it was natural for Border Partners to augment the sports center with dry toilets for the athletes’ use.


Recycling Available Materials

Reused PVC pipe becomes soccer goal

Reused PVC pipe becomes soccer goal


Commercially purchased soccer goals are expensive. To circumvent that cost, Border Partners workers devised the plan to recycle some pipes that remained from a playground climber that formerly occupied a Palomas park. This piping has had several “lives” as we’ve reused it over and over in several recreation configurations. It now stands proudly in cement, ready to signal the traditional soccer victory cry of “Goooooooooooooooal!”

Homemade window protection

Homemade window protection

“People Powered” Construction

Similarly, commercially purchased soccer goals are costly. But with the available “people power” of many willing community workers and volunteers, home-made nets now adorn more than just the soccer goals. Macrame nets also cover the windows of the facility, preventing errant balls from exiting the building and will eventually separate the courts in the facility allowing play of several games concurrently.

Community Sports Teaches Sustainability

A community project can stretch funding dollars and can also serve as a model for a community like Palomas that has few available resources. This Community Sports Center has been a boost to the town by providing a major recreational asset. That in itself would have been laudable. But, even better from our point of view, the project promotes values that we hold dear: sustainable technologies and people-centered  development. For that, we are pleased and grateful.