Four hundred and fifteen.
That is the number of stairs children from the age of 4 to 19 at the Criança Esperança club climb every day to get to their after-school soccer program.
The club uses “soccer as a tool to improve their [the kids] education,” says coach Francisco Barreto Araújo, “we teach courage, resilience, and other values that are important to face life’s obstacles.” The club, which translates to “child hope” in English, is located in the Cantagalo favela of Rio.
Daniel Silva Barreiro, 9, and Gustavo Alves Cabral, 11, have found that the thing they enjoy the most about the program is the opportunity to play and learn the game with their friends.
Barreiro dreams of emulating his favorite soccer player, Robert Lewandowski, and becoming a professional soccer player. Even at a young age, however, he is able to see the important role education will play in his future. “[School is important] because I will have to go on interviews. I will have to know how to articulate during them.”
The program emphasizes the importance of good choices and character building through a sport that is so beloved by the community.
“It is not mandatory for the kid to come, unlike regular school. The kid comes because he likes it,” Francisco said. “He knows that here, he’s going to find things that are interesting to him and that will make a difference in his life.”
Gustavo Alves Cabral and Daniel Silva Barreiro of the Cantagalo favela of Rio