Premier Skills: football in the favela

With the football World Cup this year and Rio de Janeiro hosting the Summer Olympics in 2016, sport fever is gripping Brazil. This is an unprecedented time for sport to be used as a tool for social good in some of Brazil’s most deprived communities. And with the collaboration of the Brazilian police and community leaders, we’re working with the Premier League to use sport to build trust and create opportunities in marginalised communities in Rio.

Premier Skills Esporte Seguro (Safe Sport) builds on the successful ‘Kicks’ programme in the UK. Tottenham Hotspur Foundation has teamed up with Premier Skills and the Rio Security Secretariat to help develop community projects that will reduce crime and build community cohesion.

Using the Kicks model, Premier Skills Esporte Seguro has been adapted to engage young people living in neighbourhoods, known in Brazil as ‘favelas’ where young people often face challenging circumstances. Although the favelas are different from anything experienced in the UK, the principles of using sport to break down barriers between young people and the police equally apply.

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.

In February 2014, three community coaches from Tottenham Hotspur Foundation visited the Morro Dos Prazeres favela in Rio where Esporte Seguro takes place. The Tottenham coaches led a workshop for 40 military police officers that work in favelas across Rio and shared techniques the officers can use to relate to young people.

Richard Allicock, Tottenham Hotspur Foundation's Youth Engagement Officer, said: “From our experience in the UK, we realise that the relationship between police and youngsters could be better. 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.”

Officer Renata Marques Costa, who teaches Judo in the Vidigal favela, noticed the similarities between Brazil and the UK.

 “It’s interesting because we realise that the reality abroad is the same as here”, said Renata. “Perhaps we don’t have the same resources as they do, but the will to make a project happen is the same.”

Premier Skills meets a global need for community intervention through the power of football, and one that is highly appealing for local partners.

Ana Bessa, Project Manager, British Council, said: “Since 2011, we have a partnership with the Rio Security Secretariat, when we started developing the project in the Morro dos Prazeres community. We offered the Secretariat the opportunity of bringing representatives from the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation, who have experience in developing community projects, using football as a tool for engaging youngsters and children. We thought that this exchange with a British club would be interesting, because they have been doing this work for a long time, breaking barriers between youngsters and the police”.

Read more about the partnership in the media articles below.