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Monrovia - Street football has become a new phenomenon in soccer programs developed by the world’s football governing body, FIFA. Although relatively new, it is gaining unprecedented attention globally.


Team Liberia, a soccer squad that comprises predominantly street children in Liberia returned home over the weekend following their participation in the Street World Cup, currently taking place in Brazil, the venue for this year’s world cup championship.

The team’s participation in the Street World Cup was made possible with funding from a charitable group based in United Kingdom. Team Liberia is actually an organization established to help take wayward, abandoned or disadvantaged children from the streets and provide opportunities for them through education and sports, preparing these kids for a better future.

The Liberian Street Soccer team joined 19 other countries to participate in the event, but was eliminated from the competition by Burundi after recording successive wins over Chile, Luxembourg and draw against South Africa and Mexico respectively.

Prior to the event, the Liberian representative joined other nations at the competition to remember all of the street children who were either killed in armed conflict or died due to lack of opportunities, particularly those who were killed at Candelåria 21 years ago in Brazil.

A memorial service was held at the very spot, where eight street children were shot dead by Brazilian police in 1993, to highlight the issue of the children death, due to the fact that nothing much has been done to protect vulnerable children who are dependent on the streets.

On April 5, 1993, eight street children were killed by Brazilian Police in the street of Candelaria. The children include: Paulo Roberto de Oliveira, 11 years old, Anderson de Oliveira Pereira, 13 years old, Marcelo Candido de Jesus, 14 year old and Valdevino Miguel de Almeida, 14 years old. Others are Gambazinho, 17 years old, Leandro Santos da Conceiçåo, 17 years old, Paulo José da Silva, 18 years old and Marcos Antønio Alves da Silva, 19 years old.

However, street children used to gather at the fountain of Candelåria outside of the church for shelter to sleep, but since the killings; the venue is now used as a place of tribute, with eight red artificial bodies painted on the ground to remind everyone about what happened on that fateful day.

Deche, one of the survivors of Candelåria, who was present during the April 5, 2014 ceremony, said these words: “I am really proud to be here and I want to thank everyone for joining me. We are a global community across five continents; today we remember the eight young Brazilians and all of the street children around the world and demand a positive change.”

In a shocking statistics, he said that 24 street children are killed in Brazil every day, an occurrence which Brazilian organizations are desperately trying to stop by reaching out to the Government for more aid.

Rodrigo, aged just 16, was meant be captain of the Brazilian team at the Street Child World Cup this year; unfortunately he was one of those, according to statistics, who was murdered just four weeks before the tournament.

According to reports, Team Liberia has formed a strong bond of cooperation with the Brazilian side following a soccer encounter between the two sides. In the match which Brazilian team won 1-0, players from the two teams celebrated in front of the painting dedicated to Rodrigo, the Brazilian star who died weeks before he was expected to captain his team.

Two players from the Liberian squad, Zwannah Sonnie and Soko Gurley joined representatives of other countries to share in a moment of silent prayers and a scattering of rose petals on the path.

They acted as true ambassadors for their country and for Street Child of Liberia, especially when comforting members of the Brazil side mourning the loss of their leader Rodrigo and offering support to other children who have suffered as much as they have.


In Brazil, Liberia Remembers Fallen Street Children As Countdown to World Cup Begins

With the FIFA World Cup in Brazil less than 65 days away, there will be many pomp and pageantry or events to the build-up. One of them is the Street Child World where a Liberian team joined other nations to remember all of the street children who have passed away, particularly those who were in Candelåria, Brazil on April 5, 1993.

A memorial service was held in the very spot, where eight street children were shot dead by police in 1993, to highlight the issue of the children death, due to the fact that nothing much has been done to protect vulnerable children who are dependent upon the streets.

The children were Paulo Roberto de Oliveira, 11; Anderson de Oliveira Pereira, 13; Marcelo Candido de Jesus and Valdevino Miguel de Almeida, 14 each; Gambazinho and Leandro Santos da Conceiçåo, 17 each; Paulo José da Silva, 18 and 19-year-old Marcos AntønioAlves da Silva.

However, street children used to gather at the fountain of Candelåria outside of the church to wash and for shelter to sleep, but since the killings; the place is now used as a place of tribute, with eight red bodies painted on the ground to remind everyone of what happen.

Deche, one of the survivors of Candelåria who was present during the April 5, 2014 ceremony said: “I am really proud to be here and I want to thank everyone for joining me. We are a global community across five continents. Today, we remember the eight young Brazilians and all of the street children around the world and demand a positive change.”

In a shocking statistics, he said that 24 street children are killed in Brazil every day, something that local organizations are desperately trying to stop by reaching out to the government for more aid. Rodrigo, aged 16, was set to captain Brazil at the Street Child World Cup; unfortunately he was one of those statistics that did not make it as he was murdered just four weeks before the tournament.

Team Liberia have formed a strong bond with the Brazilian players following a close match between the two sides, when the host nation scored in the last minute to win 1-0 and they all celebrated in front of the painting dedicated to Rodrigo. Two Liberian squad members, Zwannah Sonnie and Soko Gurley, joined representatives of other countries to share in a minute’s silence, prayers and a scattering of rose petals on the path.

They acted as true ambassadors for their country and for Liberian street children, especially when comforting members of the Brazil side mourning the loss of their leader Rodrego and offering support to other children who have suffered as much as they have. The delegation was expected in Monrovia on Thursday.

 

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