We caught up with Team Brazil Girls, Aninha and Rebeca, who in September traveled from the Vila Cruzeiro community in Rio de Janeiro to walk out alongside some of the best players in the world at Old Trafford, the home of Manchester United.
The incredible experience was part of Chevrolet’s Beautiful Possibilities Programme uniting young people from across the world, using football to create new possibilities, as Manchester United mascots.
Rebeca and Aninha, aged 13 and 14 respectively, were part of the team that won the Street Child World Cup in April 2014 and have continued to train hard for their ‘Favela Street’ football programme.
In Manchester, they were guests of Chevrolet over five days, meeting Manchester United stars Wayne Rooney and assistant manager Ryan Giggs and taking part in training sessions with Manchester United legends. On match day the girls joined the Manchester United team, stepping out in front of 75,000 cheering supporters at the ‘Theatre of Dreams’, as the hosts prepared to take on Liverpool in the Premier League.
Aninha said: “This was the most incredible experience ever, we were proud to represent our community and Brazil in Manchester. It was cold but we loved it and we saw lots of goals in the game!”
Rebeca said, “I felt like the most famous person in the world when I walked onto the pitch! Everyone was looking at us.”
Since returning to Rio the girls continue to take part in three training sessions per week, which are run by coaches from the community supported by Street Child United and Chevrolet. Fifteen other girls also take part in these sessions in a neighbourhood where fighting between the UPP and local traffickers has been steadily increasing.
Head of Brazil office, Joe Hewitt said: “Football is more than a game for these girls and the children from the community where they live. These two girls were chosen as mascots in Manchester but even more importantly with the support of Chevrolet we built a football pitch in the community to act as a safe space for kids to play and learn life skills.”
Rebeca reflected on her experience, “Now when I think about my future, I know all is achievable. We just have to work hard.”
“I want to be a footballer but if that does not work out, I’ll study to become an engineer.”
Aninha said, “I want to be a professional footballer but if I do not get accepted in any clubs I think I will want to be a PE teacher or a nurse.”
“Now we believe in ourselves. Now I know I can do it.”
To find out more about the 2015 Chevrolet Mascots programme visit www.chevroletfc.com
“No child should have to live on the streets. I commend the Street Child World Cup for providing a platform for the rights of street children to be heard.”
“No child should have to live on the streets and I fully endorse this campaign giving street children a voice to claim their rights”
“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.”