Tottenham working with Brazilian authorities ahead of the World Cup

Tottenham Hotspur using the profile of players Paulinho and Sandro have embarked on 'ground breaking' work in Brazil ahead of the World Cup in the country this summer.

Spurs & Sandro doing community work in Brazil
Sandro 'ground breaking' work
Paulinho was born within 10 miles of the Itaquerão stadium in Sao Paulo where the opening game will be played while Sandro's former club International will host games and in addition to that England will play in his home state Minas Gerais.

With such connections Spurs have taken the opportunity to tackle the drugs problem by taking football into favelas where 11 million people live often without access to even basic public services.

Spurs through The Tottenham Foundation and the British Council have teamed together to work with Rio's Police delivering community football programmes designed to engage the youngsters and steer them away from drugs.

Foundation coaches are helping to bridge the gap between the Police and the vulnerable youngsters which Sandro describes as 'ground breaking' work.

Under the baking Brazilian sun, surrounded by shanty homes in the Caju complex of favelas, the Foundation coaches also took P.E. classes. In what are some of the most deprived parts of the city they also took English lessons with the kids.

Until a year ago the area was controlled by drug gangs but it is now patrolled by the Police who have wrestled the initiative back.

Paulinho & Spurs doing community work in Brazil
Spurs using Paulinho to help community work in Brazil
“You hear about favelas back home – they are not the kinds of places you want to be going into,” said Richard Allicock, youth engagement officer at the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation. “But they’re just another local community. We just want to reach out to those kids and give them a better future.

“The Premier League and the Spurs badge are very powerful things and when you get organisations that bolt on to these badges, you get something totally different. And when our Brazilian players come back to the country, they know the club they’re playing for has a passion for their country.

“It’s been a culture shock. We’re a team from the UK, coming over to develop learning through football and this is a nation of football but they’ve taken us in and welcomed our ideas.

“Drugs is a big problem. But with the UPP programme, they can really reach out to the community and give a positive support mechanism to the community.”

The Military Police has special pacifying units (UPP) in 37 favelas and these programmes help to improve learning and relationship with this deprived group. Suspicion abounds so keeping the youngsters in school is not easy.

British Council project manager Ana Bessa said: “The project has helped to engage young people who used to see the police as the enemy. The idea is to use football as a tool to engage young people in a safe and healthy environment.”

The work that took place last week will lay the foundations for when Sandro and Paulinho return to Brazil later this year. The work will continue until 2016, when Rio de Janeiro will host the summer Olympic Games.


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