In Brazil, a sports space at the beach

Pictures by Priscilla Buhr for love.fútbol

The community of Brasília Teimosa, a neighborhood of Recife (Brazil), inaugurated the new sports arena and public recreation space refurbished by the residents themselves a few days before the beginning of Summer in the South Hemisphere. The Brasília Teimosa Arena is located at the neighborhood’s shore. There was a ribbon cutting ceremony with representatives from the community and institutions involved in the project, presentations from local Capoeira, Frevo, and Maracatu cultural groups, popular dances and inaugural soccer matches.

This love.fútbol project was financed by fundraising campaigns of the US based NGO Negus World and love.fútbol Japan. In total, the organizations raised 71,000 reais (US $20,000) for the initiative which also benefited from resources of the Consulate General of the United States in Recife. And from coordination assistance from the local social project Dribbling Crack and the support of the City Hall of Recife, which donated paint, graffiti materials, plant seedlings, improved the area’s lighting and granted use of the land for the project. This is love.fútbol’s sixth project in Pernambuco and its first in the state capital, the organization's headquarters in Brazil.

“I'm delighted to be representing 200 Japanese people that donated to this project. It's amazing to see the neighbors participating actively together for the children and the community. That’s beautiful. We believe that the sport space is a platform for connecting people in the community”, said Ryoya Kato, the founder of love.fútbol‘s Japanese chapter, who came to Brazil to participate in the project and the inauguration. Kato coordinated the online donation campaign in Japan over the first half of this year.

Kato coordinated the online fundraising campaign in Japan.

Kato coordinated the online fundraising campaign in Japan.

Negus World holds the annual "Negus World Wide Party", a festival that takes place simultaneously in several countries, advancing social projects. The 2015 edition was dedicated to the realization of a love.fútbol project in Brazil. At the time, the group created an exclusive song for the campaign called "Tamo Junto”, which mixes Brazilian and African-American rhythms.

“We're happy to contribute with this new arena, for the children from Recife. We chose Brazil after the 2014 World Cup, when we realized that a lot of kids weren't included in that huge event. In that edition, we had people from 20 different communities taking part: from Senegal, Uganda, China and other countries. Connecting communities through Music and simultaneous events allow us to share and learn about our cultures, starting a healing process. It's a moment when we don't think about all the prejudices in the world”, said Negus World co-founder and Executive Director Johwell St-Cilien, who was also in Recife to participate in the project and the inauguration.

Johwell e Kirara Fujio, Japanese player at the local football club Sport Recife, during Build Day in Brasília Teimosa.

Johwell e Kirara Fujio, Japanese player at the local football club Sport Recife, during Build Day in Brasília Teimosa.

The site, located on the sand strip between Brasília Formosa Avenue and the seawall, received new goals, eucalyptus fencing, and nylon netting to prevent soccer balls from “escaping” to dangerous areas for children. The surrounding play areas were also refurbished with murals, the installation of benches, a gazebo, garbage bins, beach-volleyball gear, signage urging drivers to reduce speeds while driving through the area, and signage encouraging community members to take care and maintain the equipment.

From the initial phase of mobilizing neighborhood residents to the final phase, community volunteers dedicated more than one thousand hours of work to the project. In one group effort held on November 10, 110 volunteers collaborated on construction activities, equipment painting, clean up, planting of seedlings and installation of signage around the field. "Last Saturday’s work showed me that when we come together anything is possible. It was very rewarding to work with some of the same people again, as we did in the beginning of all this here in the neighborhood. This project represents an opportunity to use Brasília Teimosa’s shore in a recreational and educational way." said Celeste Valença, 62, a volunteer and Captain of the Environment of the Neighbors Network formed during the project.

Before this project began, the space was used for Dribbling Crack’s work, which serves 130 children and youth in the neighborhood; and by an average of 270 additional people weekly. "The expectation is that this number will grow and that the community will increasingly use and take ownership of the space, both for leisure and for projects of social impact. Our goal in all our projects is to redefine public space, creating a sense of appreciation and sense of ownership, taking advantage of the physical process of construction for the foundation and strengthening of connections and the capacity of the community to organize collectively and lead their own projects", explains the Project Manager of love.fútbol Pedro Leal.