Thursday 29 August 2019, 23:26

SOAF and football serving the community in Brazil

  • SOAF works alongside the FIFA Foundation in disadvantaged neighbourhoods in Milagres

  • One of its projects uses football as a tool for social development

  • Children’s charity reaches out to 205 socially vulnerable young people

Hardship is the order of the day in the neighbourhood of Francisca do Socorro, on the outskirts of Milagres. Home to 28,000 people and situated in central Ceara, a state in Brazil’s north east, Milagres is a place where life may be tough but where the tireless work carried out by the members of the children’s charity Sociedade de Assistência à Criança (SOAF) has been bringing hope since 1987.

SOAF offers support for 446 families and 505 children in the local community, laying on cultural, social, educational, sporting and a host of other activities for them. And with the backing of the FIFA Foundation, it is heading up the Cidadania em Campo initiative, which aims to show football’s power as a tool for social development.

The initiative, which runs until 31 December this year, provides a place where 250 socially vulnerable girls and boys from Milagres can access and enjoy a range of social and sporting activities.

Objectives of the initiative:

  • Develop participants’ cognitive and perception skills

  • Nurture their decision-making abilities

  • Help them acquire social skills as active members of the community

  • Develop their leadership skills

  • Provide them with access to equal opportunities

  • Promote solidarity, respect and diversity

The initiative uses the Coerver Coaching methodology, provided by FIFA through its Football for Hope programme and which was successfully implemented with the community in 2017 and 2018, when FIFA offered its support on the ground.

One particular action that was well received and yielded positive results involved encouraging families to interact with other communities, mainly in rural areas. Only a small number of children and teenagers have dropped out of the activities, proof of the success the programme is having.

As well as using the necessary sporting equipment to achieve its goals, SOAF also gives families the opportunity to come together to reflect on their experiences and draw conclusions from them. Thanks to their experiences through football, these conclusions will help them achieve the initiative’s objectives.