Brazil has high-hopes for this year’s World Cup. The team made it to the finals on their home turf in 2014, is a favorite to go all the way and take home the World Cup trophy this year.
CGTN’s Lucrecia Franco spoke to one famous footballer, who knows what it takes to win, and is teaching that to a new generation.
In Rio’s crime-ridden Guadalupe neighborhood, football fever burns hot.
Every weekday, children rush from school to the Bola Pra Frente (Eye on the Ball) Institute with dreams of a sixth world cup for Brazil.
“I hope it’s the best World Cup ever and Brazil wins this time, for the love of god,” one student said.
The Institute is the brainchild of a former football star who was a key member of Brazil’s 1994 World Cup championship team.
Jorge de Amorim Campos, also known as ‘Jorginho,’ said Brazil has a strong team for this summer’s final. But he warns Brazilian fans about how difficult it is to win.
“Some people think Brazil is always the favorite,” he explained. “Well it is, but there are no guarantees because there are other good teams and one mistake can cost you the tournament.”
Jorginho, who played 64 times for Brazil’s national team, was born in the same rough neighborhood where he started his project.
“I lost many friends that dreamed of being footballer. They didn’t make it and took the path of drugs and crime. I don’t want that to happen to their sons and grandsons.”
On the surface, the institute looks like it’s about football, as its name suggests. But it’s also about education. Bola Pra Frente offers free courses in language, math, and the arts.
Of the more than ten thousand children who have gone through the program since it was founded 18 years ago, only five have become professional football players, which is exactly the point.
The idea is to teach teamwork, responsibility and respect for rules; basic life skills that can help the children in their professional lives, no matter what they eventually choose to do.
In a World Cup year, however, it is the love for the sport that is helping to focus the children and open them to new possibilities for a better future.