By Jack Arnhold, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – After raising around R$12,000 at the British and Commonwealth Society’s Christmas Festival, Street Child United Brazil are now ready to begin work on the refurbishment of their flagship football (soccer) pitch built in Complexo da Penha.
“We’re starting the build next Monday, January 28th.” comments Adam Reid, CEO of Street Child United Brazil (SCUB). “It should take around a month to completely refurbish the pitch, so we’re hoping to get it done before Carnival.”
This year, Reid comments, is all about going back to the power of sport. “The pitch is in a terrible state, so our main aim right now is to raise funds and rebuild the pitch.” He continues, stating that he is hoping to continue their positive relationship with the British School, who have helped raise funds in the past.
Once the pitch is rebuilt, SCUB are going to be offering a fresh program with their two coaches, Drika Santos and Gabriel da Silva, who have received training from Coaches Across Continents and the United Nations to create and run the daily sessions.
“This new program is going to be centered around using sport to help with life skills.” comments Reid. “So we’re talking health and well-being, promoting the rights of the children, including a right to protection from violence, a right to gender equality and education.” Gender equality in an often male-focused sport has been one of SCUB’s aims from its inception, with around sixty-five percent of their participants being female.
Reid continues. “We will continue on this program with the older participants to also encompass access to employment, because they come from the side of town where opportunities are limited.” Reid stresses how they want to the young people from SCUB to be empowered and feel as if they are the masters of their own stories, no matter their background and living circumstances.
“We’re very proud of what we’ve achieved, going back to 2015 when we set up. If you see what we’ve managed to do on a very, very limited budget. We’ve managed to do a lot.” Reid says.
2018 was an amazing year for SCUB, with highlights including the girls team winning the Street Child World Cup in Moscow, a visit from Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala, and the unveiling of a special Street Child United Brazil statue at Rio’s Maracanã Museum.
Following the Street Child World Cup, the local organization was approached by GM Chevrolet to build a football field in an area where it would be of most value to young people. The pitch was built in 2015, in partnership with GM Chevrolet.
“When the offer came from Chevrolet to build a football pitch in Complexo da Penha,” Reid comments, “We thought long and hard because Street Child is usually an event organizer. Joe Hewitt and I felt, that although it was a big risk for us, it was too good an opportunity to pass up, so we built it.”
Although Chevrolet donated the build of the field and operational costs for one year, SCUB managed the build and delivery of the field in partnership with the local neighborhood association. “Chevrolet funded us for a year.” he comments. “In 2016, after the games, up until that point we’d been backed by Street Child United, that stopped, but we still had Street Child United Brazil as a legal entity, and we have continued on our own ever since.”
Despite the pitch’s current condition, SCUB are still offering training every night. “It’s open to 300 and we usually get 45 per day.” Reid adds. There are two training sessions per day, usually divided by age. “We have boys and girls playing together, but girls have their own training sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays.” He continues.
For those wishing to volunteer, Reid adds, “We have a group of volunteers that help out when they can. Now and again we do get people that get in touch.” He continues, “We’re always interested in people being interested in us. If they’re local people, they’re more attractive to us than people coming on some volunteer holiday.”
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