By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Esporte RJ (Sport RJ) project, provided by Rio’s Secretary of State for Sport, Leisure and Youth (SEELJE), has resumed activities for the start of the 2017 season. The free program is available to children and young people, as well as senior citizens.
Since its resumption in June 2016, authorities report Esporte RJ has already added 57 centers in the capital and in the Metropolitan Region, thirty in the interior of the state, and thirty in communities with UPPs (Pacifying Police Units).
One of the main centers of the project is the Mangueira Olympic Village, in the Zona Norte (North Zone) of Rio. There are eight different free activities for 840 students – athletics, basketball, rhythmic gymnastics, water aerobics, ballroom dancing, senior dance, indoor football (soccer) and capoeira.
André Felipe do Nascimento, a seventeen year-old Esporte RJ participant, told government news sources that he managed to control his diabetes through athletics. “I’ve always liked running since I was a kid. It was the sport that helped me fight the disease,” he said. “I began to take athletics seriously and already participate in competitions.”
At age thirteen, Brenda Bleidão is another young athlete who has already achieved victories through sport. As a basketball player, recently she played in a state championship for the Mangueira team and placed as a runner-up in the competition.
“A neighbor encouraged me to play, because I am tall. I learned a lot from the sport, which made it possible for me to get a scholarship,” said Bleidão.
According to the report, one of the most sought after classes this summer is water aerobics, which takes place in the pool of the Mangueira Olympic Village. Most of the students seek to improve their quality of life, such as retired Maria da Glória Leite, 61 years old.
“I’ve got arthrosis on my knee, and since I started doing this class, I have an improvement from the pain. Besides, it’s great to be here, because I met a lot of people. The teachers are great and very good-humored.”
The Mangueira Olympic Village, as well as the other Esporte RJ centers, are still receiving registrations for activities. It is necessary to take the copy of an identity card, a CPF number, a medical certificate and proof of residence and schooling to sign up for use of the centers. The address is Rua Santos Melo, 73, São Francisco Xavier.