LIMA, June 9 (Xinhua) -- Former table tennis Latin American champion, Peru's Monica Liyau, has been working since 2006 to spread the sport's popularity among the country's poorer areas.
Having travelled the high peaks of the Andes and the arid coastal regions, visiting public schools along the way, Liyau's program has been implemented in 29 schools, with the participation of around 50,000 kids and teenagers on a regular basis.
"We have currently reached over 200,000 children in different regions of Lima, Ica, Acayucho, Lambayeque, Cusco and Puno. We provide rackets, cement ping pong tables and balls," she told Xinhua.
Liyau said it was her dream to create ping pong champions from students in poor districts. She has created the Monica Liyau Foundation with this specific goal in mind.
"Not everyone will become a table tennis champion but we want to educate them about the Olympic values of friendship, respect and excellence," she noted.
According to Liyau, ping pong can also provide the emotion of competition and could help reduce violence in the streets, much of it affecting young people.
She said that another goal is to return Peru to its leading role as a ping pong force in the region, and to see scholarships granted to talented youngsters.
"We have a very important agreement with the Ministry of Education, with the Peruvian Sports Institute, the Peruvian Table Tennis Federation and with private companies to ensure this program can reach kids in public schools," added Liyau.