By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The UPP Generation project will be represented by its athletes in the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Championship this year. The social project established by the UPP (Police Pacification Unit) program has been able to continue despite the state’s financial crisis.
According to government news sources, the team has fifty competitors, made up of young athletes from the UPPs in Providência, Cidade de Deus (City of God) and Batan.
The event takes place at the José Corrêa Poliesportivo Gymnasium, in São Paulo, between April 23rd and 30th.
Corporal Flávio Luis, coordinator of the Generation UPP Team of Cidade de Deus said, “The training has been intensified and the determination of the athletes is evident. It’s a very rewarding project and a barn of talent. We are very excited about the championship and committed to the same ideal.”
Last year, the team won three trophies and 65 medals, including sixteen gold, twenty silver and 29 bronze. The team has also won an international title in the largest jiu-jitsu championship in the world, the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) in California, United States. The fighter responsible for the feat was the young man of sixteen years, Gabriel Monteiro, from Morro da Providência.
Officer Luis explained, “We achieved levels of efficiency seen only in large professional teams. Participating in the main championship of the country consolidates a work, whose result obtained in recent editions legitimizes the close proximity actions provided by military police and partners in [favela] communities with UPPs.”
The UPP Generation social project is considered a platform for the discovery of martial arts talents. The program benefits 3,800 children, youth and adults from nineteen favela communities with classes in Judo, Jiu-jitsu, Karate, Muay Thai, Kickboxing, Taekwondo and Capoeira.
The initiative is sponsored by the Legião da Boa Vontade (LBV, or Legion of Good Will), Concessionária Porto Novo and Super Rádio Brasil. The funding is crucial as the state of Rio de Janeiro is in financial crisis the UPP program has been loosing ground in many favelas in the city.
The UPP program in Rio de Janeiro was launched in December 2008, and while many communities have benefited from added security, it remains controversial as police corruption and excessive use of force are ongoing challenges.