Two former Brazil footballers have been teaching soccer to poor children in Rio de Janeiro to stop them turning to a life of violence and crime.
Former Barcelona striker Evaristo de Macedo, 85, and ex-Flamengo defender, Andrade, 62, teamed up with Qatar which is promoting sport in poor areas as part of the legacy of the 2022 World Cup, which Doha is hosting.
They worked with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and Flamengo FC to provide training to local youngsters.
The sessions were attended by boys and girls from Campo Grande, Favela do Vidigal and Cidade de Deus, to promote “youth empowerment, inclusion and resilience” through sport.
The project is a successor to UNODC’s “Line Up, Live Up” program, which used sport-based initiatives as a tool to prevent youth violence and crime.
Qatar’s “Generation Amazing” project has reached 500,000 people in disadvantaged parts of the world such as Nepal, Pakistan, Jordan, Lebanon, the Philippines and India – and hopes to benefit a million people by the time the tournament kicks off in three and a half years’ time.
The event was arranged to coincide with the tiny Gulf state’s appearance at the Copa America tournament in Brazil this month.
The former Brazilian stars were joined by Bora Milutinovic, a former Serbian player, who holds the record for taking five different countries to five successive world cups between 1986 and 2002.
Talking about Generation Amazing, he said: “Sport can help young people to think differently. Thanks to sport you can learn discipline, motivation, team spirit, how to be respectful, all of the values that you need to be successful in life.
“The decisive factor is to be aware of how we can improve the world. The best way to do this is to share knowledge, and people who have experience can share a lot of things with children who don’t have these opportunities.”
The organizers said the aim of the Rio project was to “empower young boys and girls to become socially responsible citizens by helping them build life skills to better cope with the daily life challenges and move away from involvement in violence, crime or drug use”.
Hassan Al Thawadi, Secretary General of Qatar’s Supreme Committee, said: “Generation Amazing and the UNODC are natural partners as both entities seek to positively affect children’s lives in areas of the world most in need of assistance.
“Generation Amazing seeks to effect that improvement in lives through the power of football and today’s event is a wonderful showcase of that immense power in action.
“We sincerely appreciate the involvement of Flamengo, Evaristo and Bora Milutinovic for bringing the event to life and assisting in providing the children in attendance with a day to remember”.