Monday May 8 2017
May 3, 2014

Brasil Diary : The Street Child World Cup, Memorials And Friendships Across 19 Nations

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One of the highlights of Brazil was experiencing the finals of the The Street Child World Cup at the Fluminense stadium in Rio de Janeiro!

The tournament united 230 children from 19 countries – all with a similar background of living and working on the streets across the world.

On the eve of the final, a memorial at the Candelaria church in Rio took place to remember the deaths of street children from violence around the world. It was an emotional event which saw kids from the participating countries huddling together to show support for one another, as they remembered the friends and family they had lost to unfortunate circumstances.

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A powerful symbol of the event has been the image of Rodrigo Kelton (seen in a painting above), the former captain of the Brazilian boys’ team, who was murdered by drug gangsters on his 14th birthday in Fortaleza weeks before kick off. His teammates – and best friend, in particular, was seen breaking down as a pledge was read out in his honour.

“You have all packed your bags and traveled around the world,” said Manoel Torquato, of the campaign, “but one boy did not make it. He did not catch the flight to Rio.”

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After a tense final against a fantastic Philippines side – who put up a great fight – the Brazil girls’ team won the girls’ trophy. One first half goal from Thayane was enough to settle a tight game in which both teams struggled to create chances.

Brazil player Claudianny thinks winning the Street Child World Cup will help put children at the forefront of the Brazilian public’s mind before the FIFA World Cup: “I think because Brazil have won this event people will look more at children, and give them more attention and respect.”

 

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Meanwhile, it was team Tanzania who won the boys’ edition of the 2014 Street Child World Cup after defeating their neighbours Burundi 3-1.

Tanzania coach Suleiman Jabir added that TSCSA hope winning the Street Child World Cup will be a vehicle to increasing their deliver of support to children: “We hope we can use this as a stepping stone, to help more children in Tanzania and to campaign to the government to pass policies to support children. But this isn’t just about Tanzania, this is about children everywhere.”

Reflections

One of the best parts about covering a tournament as vibrant and dynamic as the Street Child World Cup is witnessing the carmaderie first hand. Many of the children come from dangerous and unfavourable conditions or shantytowns but they still have the biggest spirits and smiles across their faces. Their happiness and pure respect for one another despite not speaking a common language (Indonesia and Zimbabwe’s girls!) overcame barriers and showed just how powerful football is as a sport, especially in a place like Brazil.
Football, in essence, is a tool that toughens and conditions the character of the individual. In this case, the girls and boys of the Street Child World Cup united together to show the world how important it was to recognise them as individuals with a voice and a talent. They are more than their ‘street child’ status, and the battles that they fight everyday will only inspire ultimately them to become better individuals. You go, futbolitas & futbolitos!!
 
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