The protagonist of his own life, a child with a disability who dreams of being a soccer referee
“IT'S ALREADY 5 PM, I HAVE TO GO”, MIGUEL GOMES, 7 YEARS OLD, HURRIES TO SOCCER TRAINING. THE CHILD'S ROUTINE INCLUDES STUDIES THROUGHOUT THE DAY, GAMES AT HOME AND SPORTS ACTIVITIES EVERY MONDAY AND WEDNESDAY. A DAILY routine, that CAN BE SIMPLE FOR MANY, IS A HUGE ACHIEVEMENT FOR THE LITTLE ONE WHO, DUE TO MALFORMED LIMBS, WAS BORN WITHOUT ARMS OR LEGS.
Inhabitant of Fortaleza, in the northeast of Brazil, Miguel is one of the 400 children and adolescents benefiting from the Golaços Project (Great Goals), supported by World Vision Brazil in the city. The initiative seeks to spread the culture of sport in areas with low human development and high rates of violence. In the project, the boy fulfils the mission of refereeing the matches. With the cards and whistle in his pocket, the little referee nimbly roams the lawn in his adapted wheelchair. He tells how he started to love football. “I was four years old, watching the Fortaleza (Sports Club) game.”
“Everything he does is his own achievement”, boasts Rivânia, 27 years old, who saw with the birth of her son the need to learn become greater than the need to teach. “It was a process not only for me but for the whole family because we had to learn things in a different way to take care of him”.
In the field, the boundaries are outside the area. Asked about respect for the referee, one of the children immediately replies: “You have to respect him, he is the referee!”. Paulo Uchôa, one of the project's educators and coordinator of the Meninos de Deus (Children of God) project - also carried out by World Vision Brazil - reinforces the process of inclusion through the initiative.
“Miguel is an example of overcoming challenges. I've been in this community for almost ten years, Miguel is seven, so I saw him born. As soon as he began with us, in the activities you could see how much he enjoyed training”, remembers Paulo, who in the beginning carried the boy in his arms. “We ran through the cones, we worked on this issue of kicking and touching the ball, but it was in refereeing that he found himself. He knows the rules and officiates very well.”
Dedication, discipline and love for the sport brought Miguel many achievements. He has already met the defender Titi, from the Fortaleza team, of whom he has always been a fan; he won his wheelchair, through the team, in May last year, and then another electric wheelchair adapted after online crowdfunding. But the greatest achievement, which the mother boasts with a smile on her face, is seeing him be a happy child full of dreams. In addition to football, the boy likes to dance and play video games. At school, he makes sure he only gets good grades and has math as his favourite subject. Miguel, the protagonist of his own life, who has already achieved so much, shows everyone that this is just the beginning.
Great Goals Project
The Golaços Project carried out in partnership with the Secretariat for Sport and Youth, of the Government of the State of Ceará, and Enel Ceará includes football lessons after school activities. In addition, the action includes school monitoring of boys and girls, educational workshops with themes on health, citizenship and the premises of the Child and Adolescent Statute. The trainings are for the children and families of the beneficiaries. Directly and indirectly, the project reaches around 1600 people.