Written in 2013 by a participant from the original FBB society.
A rich experience where football was the perfect medium to address structural inequalities.
Our trip to Brazil saw us travel to a growing economy where football is worshipped as a way of life. Just two years before it was due to host the World Cup we decided to head to Salvador de Bahia and Natal, two cities in the poorest region of Brazil. Staying in the ‘favelas’, we hoped to engage with the most marginalised communities, those who are having their indigenous culture eroded by the advent of globalisation. The imminent hosting of the World Cup is a case in point – Local communities have been transformed to make way for new developments which harm the natural environment, and with have left local people unable to access jobs let alone afford expensive tickets to World Cup matches. The recent unrest in Brazil during the Confederation’s Cup, less than a year after we visited Brazil, shows that these issues are now impossible to ignore.
We went to Brazil to witness and experience these barriers first hand and create links that can strengthen the resolve of civil society to resist the dominant demands of the market which are being implemented by state officials.
We created extremely strong links with the local community including a commitment to co-host an International Student World Cup in Salvador de Bahia with the NGO Paciência Viva, which will explore the socio-economic legacy of the tournament on the local communities. This will involve delegations of students with a range of interests including football, ecology, economics, music, urban studies and diplomacy. Events will include talks, workshops and matches as teams from five different continents will be hosted by families in the local favelas whose residents will take part in the activities.
We arranged a public meeting with the State Secretary for World Cup Affairs and secured a commitment for the local beach (which is a crucial part of the local community, particularly children) to be cleaned up. This was a significant achievement because the local community has been lobbying for this to happen for over 20 years, without much success. We also began the development of an English language programme for local taxi drivers and waitresses that will assist them in finding employment around the World Cup.
In addition to this we organised the ‘Troféu Football Beyond Borders’, a beach football tournament in which 80 street children attended, we visited several schools and ran a variety of football workshops.