Home comforts for Sandro
Sandro has praised the work of a Premier League project in Rio after meeting 10 young people who have had their lives transformed by an 'Inspired by Kickz' scheme.
The youngsters from the Esporte Seguro [Safe Sport] programme spent three days with the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation last week as part of a trip-of-a-lifetime to London.
Esporte Seguro operates in the Morro dos Prazeres favela in Rio de Janeiro, an area with high levels of deprivation and crime.
The initiative uses the Kickz model of engaging youngsters through football in some of the most challenging areas with the aim of creating safer and more respectful communities.
Kickz has proved to be an enormous success in England having first been piloted by the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation on the Ferry Lane estate back in 2006, and now it has been exported to other countries such as India, Indonesia and Brazil.
Esporte Seguro, run by the Premier League through Premier Skills in partnership with the British Council, has been active since December 2011 with over 280 young people attending events such as football training and citizenship classes.
During their week in London, the youngsters visited the Cub’s training ground, where they watched some of their heroes in action, and afterwards they were able to meet stars such as fellow countrymen Sandro and Heurelho Gomes, as well as Gareth Bale, Aaron Lennon and Emmanuel Adebayor.
Sandro hosted a question and answer session with the youngsters, offering them advice and encouragement.
"I went through the same things they are going through," he said. "Their lives are very similar to mine, studying, training and then helping back at home.
"It's very important that these schemes take place and I'm really glad to hear that projects like this are taking place in my country."
The youngsters also had a tour of White Hart Lane stadium as well as seeing Kickz in action for themselves at one of the Foundation’s eight projects at Northumberland Park.
"Anytime you can bring different cultures together is fantastic, it can only be a positive," said Tottenham Hotspur Foundation Chief Executive, Grant Cornwell MBE.
"Football has that unique ability to engage, motivate and break down barriers. You don't need to speak the same language. Watching them together you wouldn’t know they were from different continents.
"We are in a unique position as a football club to really engage and to help motivate and inspire our young people.
"The ambition is to reach as many young people as possible, to help change as many young people’s lives as possible."