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World championship of street soccer

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World championship of street soccer

Augusto Dotto (BRA)

The Integral Sport Program - PEI (Programa Esporte Integral) is one of the social projects of the Citizenship and Social Action Jesuit Network. It is a program located at Universidade do Vale do Rio dos Sinos - UNISINOS, a Jesuit University in south of Brazil. From July 1 to 14th 2014, 7 teenagers of PEI participated in the World Championship of Street Soccer that took place in the city of São Paulo. The youngsters - accompanied by 4 educators of the Program - were selected based on their experience in the activities and also due to their leadership profile in their groups and communities.

The youngsters that represent PEI are between 15 and 18 years old. 4 girls and 3 boys have already followed a long path in the Program (most of them have taken part in it for 4 years). They are residents of the community served by the 3 action nuclei. They returned from the World Championship with the mission to disseminate the life experience and learning, principally in the group of teenagers, where they already are a reference to the others.

The event gathered over 300 teenagers from all continents and had as objective to show another soccer that occupies public spaces, strengthening the values of the communities, and which collaborates with the process of citizenship construction. Street Soccer, a sport socio-pedagogic practice, has developed at PEI since 2009. PEI and UNISINOS have been founders of the Street Soccer Movement, a Latin-American network that includes 12 countries and over 200 organizations that practice the methodology and mobilize around 100 thousand children, teenagers and youngsters. The methodology was created in Argentina, where it is called Fútbol Callejero, as well as in other Spanish speaking countries. In Brazil, it was translated as Futebol de Rua.

In Street Soccer there are no referees, the players elaborate the rules of the game themselves, boys and girls play together and the winner is not necessarily the one that makes more goals. Values as cooperation, solidarity, and respect to the agreed rules also receive points. At each game the rules are agreed, enabling modifications from the participating teams. At the end of the games there is a moments for meditation, where they discuss who is the winner. These moments make Street Soccer a tool with huge potential to promote young leaders, the methodology make them protagonists.

In São Paulo, the participating delegations stayed in Educational Centers of the City Hall and, besides integration with the other participants of the event, they were able to live and get to know better the communities near these centers.

The Arenas installed for the games occupied representative places of the city, such as Largo da Batata, emblematic location for social movements and meeting point of large popular manifestations. The finals were played at Praça da República, besides one of the city postcards, the corner of Avenues Ipiranga and São João.

The activities went far beyond soccer, the teenagers were able to participate in integration games, cultural presentations, and formation centers, and had the experience of living other cultures, widening their possibilities. The meetings and games were aimed to provide an experience of leadership to the participants, as this space is a powerful field for the acknowledgment of competences such as communication, self affirmation, and critical reflection.

The youth that went to Sao Paolo did not see the World Championship on TV, they made their own world championship, as agents of social transformation.

Moments before the great final, PEI Coordinator, Augusto Dotto read the letter from Pope Francis, sent to the youngsters that participated in the event. In this text, the Supreme Pontiff highlighted Street Soccer as an important space for constructing a meeting culture: "This World Championship final is an example of promoting the meeting culture and show us that, whenever we want and try to reach something different, we are able to do it. Our strength and engagement are able to reach great things."