CWU News

Real Madrid Foundation, Microsoft, and CWU Partner for GAME ON!

Youth leadership program pairs computer science education with sports training

The Real Madrid Foundation, Microsoft Corporation, and Central Washington University (CWU) today announced GAME ON!, a partnership that combines computer science education with soccer training to promote youth leadership and computer coding skills. The program is the first of its kind on the West Coast.

At a kick-off celebration today at CWU’s Ellensburg campus, retired Real Madrid soccer star, Emilio Butragueño said the purpose of the program is to transmit core values and acquire leadership skills through sports, while developing technical abilities that can help them in their future careers.

“Education is the key to success,” said Emilio Butragueño, now institutional relations director for the Real Madrid CF “GAME ON! is a way to show young people that gaining an education, including a college degree, is not out of reach for anyone, regardless of who they are or where they live.”

The program will be piloted this spring at two public high schools in Yakima: Stanton Academy and Eisenhower High School. The schools are about 30 miles from Central Washington University, which will coordinate the programs through the university’s Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement.

Joining Butragueño at the news conference was Orlando Ayala, chairman and corporate vice president emerging businesses at Microsoft, who said his company welcomed the opportunity to participate in the partnership. Ayala said Microsoft has a long-standing commitment to preparing young people for success in the digital world.

“In today’s world, having technology skills is essential to achieving jobs and even creating new start-ups of today and tomorrow. Regardless of the career they pursue, computer science skills will help young people in understanding how technology works, and how to create, apply, and use it specially in reinforcing critical thinking and problem resolution,” said Ayala, who joined CWU President James L. Gaudino in a university-wide address in February. “Microsoft is honored to be part of this partnership through our YouthSpark initiative, which we believe has great potential to close the digital skills gap with today’s youth especially in underserved populations.”

Gaudino said the GAME ON! program is the first sports workshop of the Real Madrid Foundation to be affiliated with a university. Gaudino said the partnership complements CWU’s ongoing commitment to community outreach. CWU engages in significant outreach to K-12 schools in the central region of the state, through programs such as Compass to Campus, the university’s Center for Excellence in Science and Math Education, and the state’s only GEAR UP grant. CWU also has one of the largest teacher preparation programs in the US.

“GAME ON! is a great fit for CWU. It’s one more way we can reach out to Washington families and tell them a college education can be a reality for them,” Gaudino said. “We’re delighted to partner with two such prestigious companies to create a new way to inspire students to aspire to more.

“We’re one of the fastest growing universities in the Pacific Northwest and we’ve recently been called the best in Washington state by The Economist Magazine, so we’re the obvious partner to join Real Madrid and Microsoft for this innovative program.”

Gaudino also praised the role played by Don Luis Fernando Esteban Bernáldez, honorary consul of Spain, and the Spanish government in helping to bring together the program’s partners.

Training for local area coaches and teachers is scheduled for March 30-April 1 on the CWU campus.

The Real Madrid Foundation’s global sports schools teach students core values through sports—the same values that have made Real Madrid CF one of the most successful soccer organizations in the world. The Foundation will provide curriculum and training designed to teach the values of teamwork, self control, respect, collaboration, and more.

Microsoft’s YouthSpark program is committed to ensuring all youth have the opportunity to learn computer science, a foundational subject that prepares students with the computational-thinking and problem-solving skills necessary for success in an increasingly digital world. Through YouthSpark, Microsoft will provide content and resources, both original and by partners such as, which will enable students to have their first programming experience.

CWU is one of the fastest growing public universities in the West. It is the top higher education provider in central Washington and is ranked first in the state for value by The Economist Magazine. CWU’s Center for Leadership and Community Engagement will coordinate GAME ON!, ensuring coaching is based on the Real Madrid Foundation’s leadership development methods and ensuring the skilled delivery of YouthSpark curriculum.

Media contact: Rich Moreno, director of content development, 509-963-2714,

March 29, 2016