You may not have heard of the Street Child World Cup, but it’s the only World Cup in Brazil that hasn’t been beset by screwups, riots and falling chunks of stadium debris. Held in Rio de Janiero this past March and April, the SCWP brought together teams of kids, ages 13-17, who have been rescued from the streets in their respective countries.
This year there were 15 boys teams and nine girls teams from 19 countries — among them Brazil, South Africa, Egypt, Nicaragua, the Philippines, Kenya, and, yes, the United States and England. Tanzania won the boys’ division (the United States finished fourth), and Brazil won the girls’ division.
Founded by UK human rights charity the Amos Trust in 2010, the first Street Child World Cup was a seven-a-side tournament with only four teams.
Unfortunately, Brazil’s adult problems spilled over to tarnish the even this year. Rodrigo Kelton, the captain of Brazil’s Street Child World Cup team, O Pequeno Nazareno, was killed in March in one of the city of Fortaleza’s slums. Kelton’s murder, as yet unsolved, occurred on his 14th birthday. Fortaleza, by the way, will play host to four FIFA World Cup games.
The organization that rescued Rodrigo five years ago, O Pequeno Nazareno, persuaded him to stop taking drugs and accept the discipline of training. The third of seven children, Rodrigo and his brother Raphael took to the streets after their mother became addicted to alcohol and drugs. In Brazil’s violent favelas as many as 10 children under 15 are killed daily.
That’s amazing: Ten children are killed in Brazil’s slums every day. If nothing else, the 2014 World Cup is shining the spotlight on this country’s crushing poverty and other socioeconomic ills. I had never heard of the Street Child World Cup before this. See their official site here, which includes info on the teams, and what you can do to help.