Beauty Inside And Out
CAC volunteer Niki Herdegen talks about her week in Rio de Janeiro with Futebol Social.
June 22nd 2015. We began our second week in Brazil by transitioning from the quiet city of Brasilia to the city that never sleeps, Rio de Janeiro. Adjusting to city life was difficult at first, but the people proved to be extremely welcoming, helpful, and kind. The breathtaking views of Copacabana beach provided an easy escape from the buzzing of the city, giving us truly the best of both worlds during our stay in Rio.
For our sessions during the week we once again partnered with Futebol Social. We had a huge turn out with the program the week before in Brasilia, so I had come in with huge expectations. To my surprise our group was quite small with no more than 15 participants per day ranging in all different ages and backgrounds. The group was small but mighty, and the intimacy of small numbers allowed us to discuss in depth the social problems in Rio. Our conversations got individuals excited and sometimes even heated, but it was incredible to see that all these discussions can be lead through our curriculum with Coaches Across Continents. It became evident that drugs, alcohol, child rights, gender equity and violence were all ugly problems in the beautiful city. We specifically selected games that highlighted these problems to help educate the local leaders and pass down to their children they train. The games put smiles across everyone’s faces and it was hilarious how much fun grown adults were having playing games designed for children. However, the serious undertones at the end of each game showed the coaches that the social message is key to solving the problems we discussed before.
During my week coaching in Rio, the hardest part for me was hearing about the lack of equal opportunities for girls both on and off the field. It made me realize how much I take for granted and how easy it is for me to go out and simply play the sport I love. Women are expected to stay home and take care of housework, not participate in activities like the other men and boys. Our female members payed an important role in not only sharing their inspiring stories but also inspiring other male members to take a stand against the problem. The problem is diminishing slowly, but I know if these coaches pass down the games we teach to their children we can create a generation that lives without discrimination.
Our 2nd year curriculum in Rio came to an end and I couldn’t be more thankful to have met our participants. All of them have a passion for soccer and more importantly the social programs they are involved in. If they can continue to pass down the messages to the children they coach, the positive impact will create a domino effect of lasting change. Our participants allowed us to share with them their beautiful city, whose heart triumphs the beauty on the outside. I’m looking forward to my next two weeks in Sao Paulo as we continue our journey in Brazil.