Municipality of Rio de Janeiro and UNICEF launch Project “Vamos jogar”

© UNICEF Brazil/2012/Jackeline Nigri
From left to right: Graziela Araújo (Rio de Janeiro Adolescents and Youth Network for the Right to Inclusive Sports - REJUPE); Romário Galvão (Municipal Secretary of Sports and Leisure); Bernt Aasen (UNICEF), Eduarda La Rocque (Pereira Passos Institute)

RIO DE JANEIRO, 27 November 2012 – Today, the Municipal Government of Rio de Janeiro and the United Nations Children´s Fund (UNICEF) launched the project “Vamos jogar. Sports for Development for the Children and Adolescents of Latin America and the Caribbean during an event held at Vila Olímpica Félix Miéli Venerando, in Honório Gurgel. This is an initiative aimed to promote sports as a right of the children of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and Latin America and the Caribbean. The master of ceremony was Fernanda Keller, Ironman five times champion and coordinator of the Institute that bears her name. The launching ceremony was attended by several local athletes.

“I breathe sports, I live sports, and participating in an initiative such as 'Vamos jogar' does make me very happy”, declared the tri-athlete, giving the tone of the ceremony attended by Bernt Aasen (UNICEF Regional Director), Eduarda La Rocque (Pereira Passos Institute President), Romário Galvão (Municipal Secretary of Sports and Leisure), Breno Viola (judo medalist), and Graziela Araújo (an adolescent participating in the Rio de Janeiro Adolescents and Youth Network for the Right to Inclusive Sports/REJUPE). 

Coordinated by the Pereira Passos Institute in partnership with the Municipal Secretariat of Sports and Leisure, the initiative implements the memorandum signed in August during the London Olympic Games by the Rio de Janeiro Mayor, Eduardo Paes, and the UNICEF Regional Director, Bernt Aasen.  The project “Vamos jogar” intends to seize the large sports events to be held in Rio de Janeiro to mobilize other cities in Brazil, Latin America and the Caribbean by stimulating public policies to ensure the right to safe and inclusive sports and recreation for all children and adolescents, particularly the most vulnerable ones.  These efforts will include coordination with the mayors of the largest cities in Latin America and the Caribbean, social mobilization, and especially the participation of athletes and adolescents through the social networks. The project also foresees the definition of indicators to measure the progress made in children´s access to inclusive sports in the region.

According to Secretary Romario Galvão, “the most important aspect is that the Rio Municipal Government has sought to ensure the population´s access to sports and recreation opportunities via three different strategies: sports for education (complementing regular school education activities); participatory sports (involving assistance and inclusion policies, particularly related to health or social recuperation processes); and talented sports (enabling children and adolescents to develop their potential to become leaders)”.

Galvão also reconfirmed the importance of this partnership by saying that “this is a special moment when we, the Rio Municipality and UNICEF, can together ensure that the legacy of these large events will be made effective in the form of public policies both for the present and the future generations, as far as their right to sports is concerned”.

The UNICEF Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Bernt Aasen, believes that the objectives of the event were achieved. First, the participation of athletes in the promotion of sports for development building on their own life story – the case of Breno Viola, the Flamengo judo athlete who has Down syndrome.  Second, youth participation was ensured. Graziela Araújo, a Young Ambassador representing adolescents and youth from 43 popular communities of Rio de Janeiro, hand delivered a letter to Secreatary Romário Galvão, requesting opportunities for participation in the definition of sports for development policies.

“It is necessary to ensure the involvement of communities, civil society organizations, the private sector, athletes, and youth in the search for a far-reaching alliance that brings together the large cities to implement Article 31 of the Convention of the Rights of the Child, if we want the right to sports to become a reality”, said Bernt Aasen, adding that he is confident that Rio de Janeiro has the required leadership to do this: “We are indeed very proud of this partnership”.

In an expression of their own leadership, the Pereira Passos Institute and the Municipal Secretariat of Sports and Leisure are already carrying out a survey to identify the current supply of vacancies for sports in the city and the population´s demands for sports. This study analyzes data gathered by the School Census and the National Household Sample Survey, among other sources. “We wish to turn Rio into the world sports capital, in partnership with the private sector. We are well aware that we should construct an agenda together with various sectors, in partnership with UNICEF, whose proposal has come to strengthen the level of our coordination with both the municipal and the state levels”, declared Eduarda La Rocque, President of the Pereira Passos Institute.

Side by side with representatives from the Honório Gurgel community, the ceremony also counted on the presence of Flamengo soccer players Marlon Borges and Marcelo Carné, Olympic athlete Juliana Veloso (springboard jump), and Parolympic athlete Carol Basilio (soccer).

Fernanda Keller closed the event by stating that “UNICEF and the Rio de Janeiro Municipal Government are proposing us to overcome the challenges of sports and social inclusion towards a better country and a better city.  This is not only about getting medals, but about making sure that our children have the chance to transform their own lives.”

More information:
Alexandre Amorim, UNICEF Brazil, tel (61) 3035 1947,
Ida Pietricovsky Oliveira, UNICEF Brazil, tel (91) 8128 9022,
Tamar Hahn, UNICEF Latin America and the Caribbean, tel (507) 301 7485,

Pereira Passos Institute:
Anabela Paiva, tel (21) 2976-6549,

Municipal Secretariat of Sports and Leisure
Marianna Riet, tel (21) 2497-4810,

UNICEF works in 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit:



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