Rio de Janeiro: Former Brazilian midfielder and the 1994 World Cup winner Jorge de Amorim Campos, also known as "Jorginho," has devoted himself to football education for his country's most underprivileged children.
Brazil has high hopes for this year's World Cup, after falling in the semi-finals on home turf in 2014. That result shook the country into renewing its emphasis on football development. Jorginho has been making his efforts in the drive, not for academy students but children in Rio's crime-ridden Guadalupe neighborhood. Football fever burns hot there. Every weekday children rush from school to the Bola Pra Frente, Eye on the Ball Institute, a renowned NGO founded by Jorginho in 2000 with dreams of a sixth World Cup champion for Brazil. "I hope it's the best World Cup ever and Brazil wins sixth time for the love of God," said Ygor Miguel, a student at the training center. Jorginho says Brazil has a strong team for this summer's World Cup final. But he warns Brazilian fans about how difficult it is to win. "Some people think Brazil is always the favorite. Well it is, but there are no guarantees because there are other good teams, and one mistake can cost you the tournament," he said. Jorginho, who played 64 times for Brazil's national team, was born in the same rough neighborhood where he started his project. He hopes that football can help change the life of the next generation there. "I lost many friends that dreamed of being footballers. They did not make it, took the path of drugs and crime, and I don't want that to happen to their sons and grandsons," he noted. While on the surface the Bola Pra Frente looks like it's all about football, as its name suggests, but it's also about education. It offers free courses in languages, math, and the arts. Although only five children have become professional football players out of the more than 10,000 who have gone through this program since it was founded 18 years ago, it is believed that this is exactly the point. The idea is to teach teamwork, responsibility and respect for rules - basics of life that can help the children in their professional lives - no matter what they eventually choose to do.