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My name is Greg Reeve, 28 from London, and I have come to Brazil to volunteer as a Rugby development officer in a disadvantaged community in Sao Paolo. I have previously worked as a community coach for Harlequins, and in various schools and clubs around the world and have come to realise that Rugby can offer so much to individuals on a personal and emotional level. It can help teach invaluable life lessons and skills that hold great importance throughout our lives.With this in mind, considering all the social and economic challenges they are presented with, I feel that young people in Brazil could really benefit from the values associated with rugby.


I am based in Eldorado, Diadema, in Sao Paolo. It is a very disadvantaged area and by all accounts pretty dangerous. Despite this though, I have found the people here among the friendliest I have ever encountered; Particularly the staff at Acer Brasil. Acer is the organisation who are sponsoring me being here. They work with the most ‘at risk’ young people in the community, and do some incredible work in the poorest areas. The staff here have really helped me settle in to making my transition as smooth as possible.


The project:

Our primary focus is to use rugby as a tool to support the social inclusion of ‘at risk’ or disadvantaged young people in Brazil and the development of valuable skills such as leadership. Furthermore the project aims to share knowledge and best practice in rugby with teachers, coaches and young volunteers creating a sustainable workforce, and ensure longevity in the sport. I am a firm believer that the future of rugby lies with the rugby clubs, both new and established. School delivery is important to introduce young people to rugby, but I feel longevity lies in getting links established between rugby clubs and young people living in the surrounding Communidades (favelas).


The players here have incredible passion, and demonstrate rugby’s core values better than most clubs I have encountered in England. There is a real sense of comradeship, both on and off the pitch, and between both women’s and men’s teams. These players/coaches will be invaluable in inspiring the next generation of rugby players and imparting their understanding of the core values to those young people who will benefit from them the most.


Unfortunately though, there are numerous obstacles to overcome. One major one is a lack of anywhere to actually practice rugby properly. Sao Paolo in particular is incredibly densely populated, and often the only option available is a concrete court. To put this in to some perspective, Watford, where I am from in the UK has a population of about 120,000 people, in approximately 22km². I have always felt that Watford is quite densely populated. Diadema on the other hand covers an area of 30.7 km², with around 390,000 people living there. There’s just no space. The other option of travelling over 10km to train is also almost impossible, as the cost of a bus ticket there and back could be the same cost as a few day’s or a week’s worth of food.


Secondly is the sheer lack of knowledge about what rugby actually is. Football is obviously the main sport here, but rugby has so much potential. In order to grow as a sport, people need to understand what it’s about, and really buy in to it. Education and training about rugby is particularly difficult due to the education system here in Brazil. Different age groups study at different times of the day, not 9-5 like in the UK. As a result, the vast majority of young adults work all day (to pay for university) and then study at night. It is thus difficult to find people with much free time to spare.


In Summary:

I have only been here a month, and I am sure I have a lot of lessons to learn, but at the moment I feel I have a vision and a plan to work towards. I am incredibly excited about what the next 8 months will bring, and am ready to put 100% in to everything I do. It is such a different environment to live in, and gives a massive sense of excitement just looking out the window every morning.

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