The 49ers want to win in Mexico on and off the field

Since 1991, the foundation has worked with nearly one million youth in the Bay Area, which includes the cities and metropolitan areas of San Francisco and Oakland, through physical and mental health programs.

The idea is that young people get involved in sports activities, but also in education to reduce health risks and keep them away from addictions and crime. According to Prettyman, the “spark” of those who participate in his program is the same in the United States as it is in Mexico.

“These are the same concepts that are translated across cultures,” said the manager in an interview. “Being in Mexico as a team, but also as a foundation, is a great opportunity to extend our work.”

Prettyman wears an official team polo shirt for the interview and smiles upon arriving at the restaurant where hours later there will be an event with fans of the 49ers, one of the most popular teams in Mexico.

Although they set up chairs in front of him and take food from one place to another, he focuses on making it clear that the foundation he has headed since 2017 has the firm conviction that through American football you can teach about STEAM, an acronym in English for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.

Last week, the 49ers Foundation held activities in Mexico, similar to the ones it does in California, precisely as a first step in giving something back to the community, a concept that Prettyman repeats constantly throughout the conversation as a kind of mantra.

“In two days there were more than 200 young people,” he said, proud of the activities carried out. “It is to encourage movement, more than soccer, which did take place and we had fun, it was about teaching young people how to stay active, live a healthy life.”

In the leading global country in childhood diabetes and one with the highest number of cardiovascular diseases, physical activity becomes a risk reduction factor and that is where the foundation wants to leave its mark.

“It’s explaining why you need to diet, move your body daily, put down electronic devices from time to time,” he said. “It’s going to your friends and saying: are we going to the park to do what we learned with the 49ers?”

Two or three days a year is not enough time to have an impact, Prettyman himself acknowledges this and, therefore, ensures that the team’s commitment to Mexico goes beyond the game against the Cardinals.

“We are always evolving, it was just announced this year that Mexico was official 49ers territory, so we are on our honeymoon, trying to see what comes next,” he said. “We are trying to understand the next steps.”

The truth is that the Californian team is interested in Mexico as a market. Alex Chang, marketing director of the 49ers, assured in an interview with Expansión magazine that after the United States, Mexico is its most important market and where the greatest internationalization bets are. Since the foundation the message is the same.

Each year, the 49ers Foundation allocates around $8.5 million for the implementation of its programs, most of which have more to do with mentoring and helping community centers and youth organizations to develop flag football leagues ( a form of non-contact American football) and other activities.

Of course, Prettyman explained, the efforts are focused on the poorest people. The Bay Area is ranked as the most unequal in the United States, with some of the highest family incomes in the country and, at the same time, the highest number of homeless people.

“In the Bay Area, unfortunately, it’s also separated by haves and haves, it’s like in Mexico City,” he explained. “Extreme wealth and extreme poverty, our goal is to recharge communities with fewer resources, encouraging those who do have to contribute. Those who have, give a little back to the community.

Although there is no commitment of financial resources, the 49ers and their foundation see Mexico as fertile ground for a long-term relationship, not just a one-night stand at the Azteca Stadium. And the message comes from the top of the team management, passing through the players, who Prettyman assures are fully committed to the activities of the foundation.

Before leaving, Prettyman knocks on wood when he talks about the Super Bowl and the coveted championship that the team hasn’t touched since the early 1990s. For many, the window for a San Francisco title remains open, including this manager who thinks of the court, but his heart is elsewhere as well.

“If we don’t win the Super Bowl, the next best thing is always, always, always giving more of ourselves to the community,” he said. “The most valuable thing is to know at the end of the season that we had an impact.”

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