Rio 2016 takes Olympic and Paralympic sports to Rocinha favela


Residents of one of Brazil’s best-known favelas, Rocinha, took the chance to try their hands at a range of sporting activities this weekend, thanks to Rio 2016.

Photo: young Brazilian with hockey stick

Jolly hockey sticks: young Brazilians had a go at classic Olympic sports; © Rio 2016/Karina Lins e Silva

On saturday (7 May) the games organisers took over the Rocinha sports complex, giving residents of all ages the opportunity to get a taste of Olympic and Paralympic sports such as rugby, windsurfing, hockey and sitting volleyball.

The sprawling community of Rocinha is one of the largest favelas in Rio. In recent years the area has benefited from significant government investments. The sports centre that was used by Rio 2016 on Saturday and a pedestrian walkway designed by Oscar Niemeyer were both opened in 2010. A large community police force began operating in the district in 2012, helping improve security for residents and visitors.

The sports festival on Saturday formed part of Transforma, the education programme of Rio 2016. Transforma aims to give Brazilians, especially children, access to sports and to teach them about the values of the Olympic movement.

People from all walks of life participated in the sports festival on saturday. Residents of Rocinha rubbed shoulders with inhabitants of the luxury condominiums of the São Conrado neighbourhood opposite.

Pensioner Ivanir Santos Pereira, 70 years old, said she felt like a kid again at the event, where she was able to fulfil a lifelong dream by trying archery for the first time.

Visitors came from all over Rio. Janderson Wagner made the long journey from the distant suburb of Belford Roxo.  After losing his left leg, Wagner became a dedicated player of sitting volleyball and played for the prestigious Vasco da Gama club in Rio. In Rocinha on saturday, Wagner was busy evangelising for his sport; judging by the number of children having a go, he was having a very successful day.

"I hope that the festival encourages other people to start following sitting volleyball", Wagner said. "It’s very interesting to see that it’s not only people with impairments who want to play."; Source: Rio2016

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