Street Child World Cup to kick off in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The Street Child World Cup will kick off in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Friday 28 March. Though the ten-day football tournament is the headline activity, the UK-based charity is keen to stress that the ten-day schedule will be far more than just a game. Alongside the football the children will participate in a festival of arts and the only international street child conference of its kind, which will culminate in the “Rio Rights declaration”.

Two hundred and thirty street-connected children aged 14-17 will take part. Referred to as “street champions”, this group of young people are inspiring examples of how every street-connected child has a future away from the streets when they receive the right protection, rehabilitation and opportunities. The children will form teams from 19 countries and the football will involve both a girls and a boys tournament. It may not be the biggest or the most expensive world cup to come to Brazil this year, but it is certainly a world cup with a difference.

Former Manchester United and England star David Beckham:

“I look forward to Brazil when street children from around the world will play football and represent the millions of children who still live or work on our streets.”

The venue for the Street Child World Cup will be Espaço Lonier in Vargen Pequena, Rio de Janeiro. This is a large, safe space with accommodation, conference centres, areas for workshops and exhibitions, and of course, a range of football pitches. Espaço Lonier will play host to an opening ceremony on Sunday 30 March, involving performances and crafts created by the children, alongside the charity’s Artistic Director and former Royal Shakespeare Company Professional, Renato Rocha. This will officially open the football tournament and get the ball rolling on an eclectic ten days, in which arts and creative thinking will play a key part.

The Street Child World Cup event is unique in that it holds the only participatory international conference for street-connected children. The aim of the conference is that the children themselves develop a universal statement, which will be called the “Rio Rights declaration”. Within this declaration there will be a number of country-specific asks ensuring that Street Child World Cup will continue to be used as a platform for change when the children return to their own countries.

The methodology of the conference will be Team of Life, which is an easily accessible approach developed to enable traumatised children to talk about their experiences in a manner that empowers them with resilience.

Talks will also aim to address the theme of gender and particular experiences faced by girls on the street, as well as encouraging girls into football, which remains a heavily male-dominated sport. Supporters include Alex Scott of Arsenal and the England Women’s Team, who visited and trained the girls in the community of Complexo da Penha, Rio de Janeiro, and International Human Trafficking Consultant Abigail Stepinitz, who has commented:

“The Street Child World Cup is a fantastic example of breaking down of gender stereotypes. In so many countries, sport is still considered to be the domain of men and boys.”

In 2010, Street Child World Cup contributed to the ending of the brutal practice of “street sweeps” in Durban South Africa, such that this year, talks will be held in the knowledge that substantial change is possible. This year, the conference will act as a platform for the Brazilian Campaign Criança Não é da Rua (Children are not of the street), which Street Child World Cup is backing.

During the ten-day programme, the children will also be involved in a series of external activities. They will visit iconic sites of Rio de Janeiro, such as the Christ the Redeemer statue and the Maracanã stadium, where just three months later, the FIFA World Cup final will take place. Two days will be spent in the community of Vidigal, where the children will meet and interact with local residents through football and arts activities, in partnership with the Rio Ministry for Sport and Leisure. The end of the ten days will culminate at the home of one of Rio de Janeiro’s leading football teams, Fluminense, based in Laranjeiras. Anyone keen to support is encouraged to get in touch about free tickets to the stadium, for what proves to be a very exciting round of finals and the closing ceremony.

This intensive ten-day programme encourages enjoyment, exploration and interaction. Most importantly though, it aims to create a supportive and active forum for “street champions” from around the world to express themselves confidently, with a sense that they can achieve lasting change.

For more information or to attend the Street Child World Cup, please contact:

In Brazil 

Joe Hewitt via Joe@streetchildunited.org or by phone on 0055 2199192-7770.

In the UK

Jo Clark via Jo.Clark@streetchildunited.org or by phone on 0044 7736 879246

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Endorsements
  • “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.”

    Manny Pacquiao, Filipino professional boxer
  • “No child should have to live on the streets and I fully endorse this campaign giving street children a voice to claim their rights”

    Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester United Manager
  • “It was possible to gather many nationalities, cultures, and form a nation: a nation of free man, with equal rights and opportunities, mutual respect, rightful duties. It was 10 days when the world, in that corner of Rio, was fair to socially excluded children; they could feel the beauty of being somebody in this world.”

    Abdul Faquir, Team Mozambique, Project Leader