Methodists in Brazil for start of Street Child World Cup
A group of Methodists have flown over to Brazil for the Street Child World Cup, which kicks off today in Rio de Janeiro.
The 10-day tournament is becoming a tradition in the run-up to the Fifa World Cup, highlighting the plight of street children, challenging negative perceptions, and giving them the chance to have their voices heard.
In the UK, Methodist churches have been involved in fundraising efforts and in the past two years, contributed £30,000 to the Street Child World Cup.
In Bristol, young Methodists organised a fundraising event that saw District chairman the Reverend Ward Jones gunked in a Cheshire cat onesie.
The money raised has been used to sponsor one girls' team and one boys' team from Nicaragua to play in the Rio tournament.
The two teams have been put together by Casa Alianza, a charity providing a safe haven for street children and the tools for a new life through sports, art, therapy, group sessions, education and spiritual guidance.
Tamara Wray, Methodist Youth President, said: "The Street Child World Cup really can change the lives of street children.
"The young people who participated in the SCWC in Durban in 2010 are now all working and living independently because of Casa Alianza.
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"They all speak about the motivation and inspiration that they gained from the experience. This is why we, along with our Methodist volunteers who are in Rio helping out during the event, are proud to be backing the Street Child World Cup because no child should ever have to live or work on the streets."
Roseanne Levermore, a participant for the Joint Public Issues Team, is one of a group of Methodists supporting Team Nicaragua in Rio today.
"I am really looking forward to working with the Street Child World Cup and helping to run their 'Fringe' sessions in Rio," she said.
"This is a really exciting part of the project that happens away from the football pitch in the evenings. The children and young people will be given a chance to reflect on the day, and a quiet space amongst the excitement of the tournament.
"My role within the fringe team is to coordinate the 'Relax' sessions. These involve yoga, art therapy, sign language to music, hair braiding, sewing, cooking, and practical classes including computer skills to name but a few."
Methodist support for the Casa Alianza will continue after the Street Child World Cup, with Wray taking part in a 10km charity run on 1 June.
"As people, we always look for the happy ending as this provides us with comfort," she said. "The Street Child World Cup is not the happy ending: it's the beginning. So please support the SCWC and Casa Alianza in the fantastic work that they are doing."