Street Child United and GM Chevrolet have teamed up to provide children at risk of the streets a safe space to play in northern Rio de Janeiro.
The pitch is located in Complexo da Penha, a favela community from which nine girls represented Brazil at the 2014 Street Child World Cup. The area has seen a high level of gun violence between traffickers and Police, which can flare up daily on the streets of the community.
The pitch was opened on Saturday 30 May by former Brazil World Cup winner and Street Child United Global Ambassador, Gilberto Silva. He said:
“I was at the Street Child World Cup and I saw what impact it had on the empowerment of street children from around the world. I’m proud to officially open this pitch in Rio which provides a safe football space for children who are at risk of the streets.”
The brand new pitch is accompanied by a playground and flood lighting to ensure the football can continue in the evenings. GM Chevrolet has also guaranteed that three coaches from the community are employed to run daily coaching sessions over the next year for the children of the community who are at risk of the streets.
Joe Hewitt of Street Child United said:
“Street Child United is delighted with the new GM Chevrolet pitch. The streets in this part of Rio are extremely dangerous for the children to play and this pitch will be a safe zone where kids can be kids.”
The partnership is a continued legacy from the Street Child World Cup that GM Chevrolet sponsored in 2014. GM Chevrolet has a global commitment to bring play to where it is needed most. Chevrolet works with local organizations to revitalize football pitches, donates ultra-durable One World Futbols and provides life skills and soccer skills training through Coaches Across Continents. Chevrolet’s goal is to celebrate true stories of play and inspire and drive change in children who live in underprivileged communities.
A Chevrolet spokesperson said:
“Street Child United is an organization that quickly caught our attention when we started looking at different organizations around the world. Street Child United stands together for the rights of street children across the world – a cause that is very close to our heart. Because of this, Chevrolet felt compelled to partner with them and help turbocharge its efforts in this community.”
Team Brazil Captain Drika Santos said:
“This is our place to play football & to be happy. The streets are not safe. We are safe here. Thank you Street Child United and Chevrolet FC.”
Drika was amongst a group of young people from Street Child United who were recipients of a tailored program for local football coaches from Chevrolet and Coaches Across Continents (CAC). This group included three coaches who will be funded to run training sessions at the pitch including Thaiane da Silva who scored the winning goal at the Street Child World Cup and is now a coach aged 18. The coaching program focuses on how sport can be used to tackle and resolve life’s many challenges both on and off the field. Other participants included street child organisations from across Rio.
Photographs by Gustavo Oliveira
“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.”
“I know from personal experience just what power football can have to inspire and change young people’s lives whatever their background or nationality. This is what the Street Child World Cup is all about and I give it my full support.”