Monday 24 February 2014
The Tottenham Hotspur Foundation visited Rio de Janeiro this month to launch a partnership with Brazilian police to tackle gang crime in some of the city's most challenging favelas.
Coaches from the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation travelled to Rio to share their experience of tackling similar problems on north London estates with the local police. They passed on how they engage young people in disadvantaged communities with the aim of helping to develop community projects that will reduce crime and build community cohesion.
"From our experience in the UK, we realise that the relationship between police and youngsters could be better," said Tottenham Hotspur Foundation youth engagement officer Richard Allicock. "We believe that, if the policeman is an agent who brings positive actions and is able to engage youngsters in a positive way in their community, then they can start breaking barriers. This is what the programme aims to do."
The link-up between the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation and the Rio police is part of the Premier Skills project, delivered by the Premier League and the British Council, which helps young people around the world turn their lives around.
"We've seen first-hand the positive impact football can have, especially at grassroots level"
Grant Cornwell MBE
In Rio, the project intends to help build safer and more respectful communities by strengthening the police force's relationship with young people living in the favelas.
Such work is under way in the city with UPPs or "pacifying units" working with local primary school teachers. The Foundation ran workshops for 40 members of the Brazilian police, who were representatives of all of the UPPs in Rio that have established some kind of social work in their community.
"Tottenham Hotspur Foundation runs a number of successful projects aimed at improving social cohesion, using sport as a catalyst to develop the potential of young people and create safer communities," said Grant Cornwell MBE, Chief Executive Officer at Tottenham Hotspur Foundation. "Through our award-winning community development programmes, we've seen first-hand the positive impact football can have, especially at grassroots level, helping to support young people in a range of engaging, constructive activities.
"We are delighted that, with the support of Premier League and the British Council, we are able to work in partnership with Rio State Paramilitary Police to share ideas and develop initiatives to support young people in some of Rio's most disadvantaged communities."
This is the first time a Premier League club has worked with Premier Skills to create a formal partnership with an overseas community.
"It's interesting because we realise that the reality abroad is the same as here," said officer Renata Marques Costa, who teaches judo in the Vidigal favela. "Perhaps we don't have the same resources as they do, but the will to make a project happen is the same."
The work in Rio is not the first link that Spurs have forged with the city. In 2012 youngsters from the Esporte Seguro (Safe Sport) project in Rio visited London, where they witnessed the work of the Foundation. They also visited the Premier League offices and Spurs' training ground, as well as being given a behind-the-scenes tour of White Hart Lane.
"It is great to see that Tottenham Hotspur is using its appeal as a Premier League football club to do something that will make a difference"
During the visit they met Spurs and Brazil midfielder Sandro, who tooks their questions and gave invaluable guidance from one of their footballing heroes.
Esporte Seguro, run by the Premier League through Premier Skills in partnership with the British Council, was launched in 2011 and operates in the Morro dos Prazeres favela in Rio, an area with high levels of deprivation and crime. The initiative uses the Premier League Kicks model, a partnership between the League and the police, of engaging youngsters through football with the aim of creating safer communities.
"It is great to see that Tottenham Hotspur, through its Foundation, is using its appeal as a Premier League football club to do something that will make a difference in the lives of those who are less fortunate in my home country of Brazil," Sandro said. "I had the privilege of meeting young people from the Esporte Seguro project on their visit to London two years ago, and it is fantastic to see that a groundbreaking project in Rio has resulted from discussions that have been had since then."
The Esporte Seguro project has also received praise from England manager Roy Hodgson, who visited the life-changing initiative and watched a training match ahead of the London 2012 Olympic Games.
"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."