Creative collaborations as a force for good
Sport has always been an important tool for the development of children, youth and adults. When used in the perspective of promoting values, inclusion and citizenship, it reinforces its social role of contributing to the formation of character, discipline and social relationships.
The pandemic has heightened inequalities and reinforced the importance of promoting actions for groups that are marginalized and underrepresented, whether for social, economic, or ethnic reasons.
The possibility to share dreams, experiences and opportunities related to sport still remains a challenge in Brazil. The Academic & Soccer Project – Projeto Academia & Futebol (PAF) – is an initiative of the Ministry of Citizenship of the Brazilian government that aims to increase access to soccer, futsal, and beach soccer. PAF caters to children, youth, and adults with and without disabilities, between the ages of 6 to 23 years.
Developed by the National Secretariat of Soccer and Defense of Fans' Rights (SNFDT), this initiative focuses on access to structured sports practice, with emphasis on frequency, intensity and duration (3 times a week, with at least 90 minutes), taught by qualified professionals. Currently, the PAF has 33 centers spread across different regions of the country (North – 9 centers; Northeast – 8 centers; Southeast – 7 centers; South – 4 centers; Central-west – 5 centers).
Soccer occupies a prominent place in Brazilian sports culture, specifically in the case of Sergipe. The function soccer plays on the social imaginary is preponderant, and it is not just limited to victories in the game. The PAF center in Sergipe has 150 students between 8 and 18 years who live in the municipality of São Cristóvão and the capital, Aracaju, catering specifically to students from the Santa Maria neighborhood.
These regions are considered areas of social vulnerability and have a lack of structured and well-oriented practice focused on student development. When using the facilities at the Federal University of Sergipe, the possibility of working with multidisciplinary actions has opened up, involving the entire pedagogical and health structure for the students (school reinforcement class, nutritional guidance, functional assessment, psychological follow-up, oral health).
The PAF's guiding pillars are intervention (sports experience based on conceptual, procedural, and attitudinal aspects), research (production and dissemination of information that can generate knowledge) and training (continuing education).
The project covers students of both genders, providing social interaction between them, where everyone interacts while participating in the main activity, in which everyone adds to the learning, sharing their personal experiences with the group and learning from the experiences of others.
Sport-based interventions have helped build a value system in these students. Soft skills like cooperation have allowed them to learn more about autonomy and responsibility, adding to their personal growth.
In addition, physical tests were conducted to identify the capacity of project participants, based on their physical and technical capabilities, to provide opportunities for activities appropriate with their stage of development and to perform future evaluations and measure the development throughout the project based on the experiences offered.
The activities impact some personal behaviors such as leadership, teamwork, communication, adaptability and creativity. Urging these students to follow rules while participating in these activities generates personal growth, teaching them how to treat their colleagues and teachers, and also build punctuality and commitment.
Apart from project activities, participants also attend lectures given by education and sports professionals, to motivate them to continue in the project and use it as a means of personal growth, either through sports skills that can lead to professionalization in sports, or through knowledge. Thus, in future, if they were to provide the same experience to younger students, they will remember that becoming a soccer play is not the only way to grow with the sport – soccer can be used for holistic development of individuals.
Marcelo de Castro Haiachi1,2,3
Roberta Santos Kumakura2,4
André Leon Lemos Pereira1,3
Ailton Fernando Santana de Oliveira1,2,3
1Federal University of Sergipe, Department of Physical Education. Sergipe Center – Federal University of Sergipe – City Hall of São Cristóvão Promotional Vídeo
2Research Group on Olympic and Paralympic Studies - GPEOP, Brazil.
3Research Center on Public Policies for Physical Education, Sports, Leisure and Adapted Sports in the State of Sergipe - SCENARIOS, Brazil
4Ballare Escola de Arte e Movimento