Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
In 2013, the Favela Street Girls project launched in Vila Cruzeiro.
Vila Cruzeiro is situated in the Complexo da Penha group of favelas in Rio de Janeiro’s North Zone, and it is notorious for high levels of violence. It is also famous for being home to the now retired football player Adriano Imperador (‘Adriano the Emperor’), who maintains a close relationship with the community to this day. But Vila Cruzeiro has a rich history beyond these two aspects. At the end of the 19th century, an abolitionist and republican priest ceded the space to formerly enslaved men, who organised into a quilombo – a refuge for escaped slaves and their descendants. By maintaining their traditions even today, the community continues their legacy of resistance.
The Favela Street Girls project has had an incredible impact on the participating girls and their community. Using the power of street football, it’s helped create a new generation of strong female role models. The project started with just 5 to 8 girls and the number of players has increased to as many as 80. The Favela Street Girls were chosen to represent Brazil at the Street Child World Cup in 2014 and went on to win the tournament, instantly becoming heroes. Two girls from this group are now coaches for the Familia Caracol project, through which they organise football activities for kids on a daily basis. Besides becoming football coaches, the girls have participated in several local and international education and work courses. And their tremendous growth has in turn had a positive impact on their