Gilberto Silva, FIFA World Cup winner with Brazil and member of Arsenal’s 2003-04 “invincible” team, has been encouraging the teams of children from 19 countries at the Street Child World Cup, organised in association with Save the Children.
The former Brazil captain, who was visiting on behalf of BT supporters Club who fund Team India, Team Tanzania Team Brazil girls, spent the days speaking with SCWC co-founders John Wroe and Chris Rose, meeting the teams, watching games, giving team talks, and having lunch with the players.
After seeing the Street Champions enjoying their time at Lonier, Gilberto was keen to emphasise that the Street Child World Cup is more than just a game: “All the kids have won a big trophy just by being here. Of course after this they will win more, because they will have a different perspective on life: there’s a bright future for them.”
Gilberto says his background means he can emphasise with the Street Champions: “I have quite a big connection with the kids, because seeing the kids play reminds me of when I played on the streets. I didn’t have a start to life like theirs, I was fortunate not to be in their position, which is the hardest in the world.”
As someone who has played football across the world, Gilberto thinks the sport is the perfect vehicle for promoting the rights of children: “Football is a powerful game, and is a great sport to bring different people together to show the reality of life for the kids. I hope more people will get involved in projects like this.
“I’m happy to be part of this project, even if it is just a small part. It is great to see a project working hard to help these kids, and kids all over the world, have a better future.”
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“When ever people come across me they laugh. It seems like my mouth is zipped because they talk for us. I wish they could give us a chance to talk for ourselves.”
“I experienced hardcore street life in my youth. I know what it’s like. I congratulate the Street Child World Cup project in it’s commitment to bring attention to the plight of Street Children through the power of football.”
“It was a privilege to be invited to the launch of the Street Child World Cup at Downing Street. It gives children a voice through football, sales a platform to express their rights and celebrate their abilities – I’m proud to add my support.”