Thursday 02 August 2012
England manager Roy Hodgson has visited a flagship Premier Skills project in Rio de Janeiro as part of celebrations marking the start of the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
The former Fulham and West Bromwich Albion boss saw the life-changing Premier Skills initiative in action as he watched a training match and met the youngsters involved.
"I think this is a fantastic project," said Hodgson.
"I have such admiration for the people who are running the project, the coaches, the people who are encouraging the children to play and looking after them.
"I think this is a fantastic project"
- Roy Hodgson
"This is one of the most incredible football pitches I have ever seen with such a view all around you."
The guests at the celebration event, which was organised by the British Consulate General in Rio, watched the first part of the Olympic opening ceremony from London live on a giant screen while local children performed the London 2012 mascot dance.
London 2012 chairman Lord Coe also recorded a special message to Rio, who will host the next Olympic Games in 2016.
Rio’s Premier Skills ‘Inspired by Kickz’ programme, known as Esporte Seguro (Safe Sport), operates in the Morro dos Prazeres favela, an area blighted by high levels of deprivation and crime.
It is based on the Kickz model of using the power of football to engage youngsters and to break down barriers between the community and the police with the aim of creating safer, stronger and more respectful communities.
Esporte Seguro, delivered by the Premier League through Premier Skills in partnership with the British Council, has been running since December last year and has proved to be a massive success, with 300 youngsters registered to the project at any one time.
"I am very pleased and grateful for all that has been done for this project"
- Orlando Dato
As well as running three football sessions a week, Esporte Seguro offers citizenship classes and provides routes into education.
Esporte Seguro community coach Orlando Dato said he was delighted to have Hodgson visiting the project.
"We had never received in our community a visit of any football team manager before, not even from the lowest division, and now we have you, a national team manager, it is such an honour," said Dato.
"I am very pleased and grateful for all that has been done for this project."
Hodgson's visit is another landmark for the Brazilian project as earlier this year 10 youngsters from Esporte Seguro had a trip-of-a-lifetime visit to London.
The youngsters had a tour of the Premier League offices, met Tottenham Hotspur star Sandro at the club's Chigwell training ground and saw a London Kickz project for themselves.
Kickz, which began in 2006 with four pilot projects, now works with 19 police forces and over 60 local authorities in England with 44 Premier League and Football League clubs running over 100 projects.
As well as Rio, the 'Inspired by Kickz' programme operates in Indonesia and India.