Organization uses soccer to help street kids succeed

This organization is using soccer to help street kids succeed.

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) - What do the British Embassy, soccer and homeless children have in common? Street Child United It's an organization founded by a group of British families in 2010.

Their aim is to harness the power of soccer and change the lives of homeless and street connected children.

Joe Hewitt and Claudiane das Dores Santos, better known as Drika hope to make an impact for children around the world who need help.

They're using soccer. In advance of the FIFA World Cup in Moscow will be the Street Child World Cup.

Hewitt explains, the importance. "It's really an opportunity to give children who live on the streets, work on the streets, an opportunity to have their own World Cup.To have a level playing field where they're treated equally, they have a safe place to play and also their voices are heard because we run a conference alongside the soccer."

Drika grew up in Brazil loving soccer, but not having the means to play. "When I was a child I lived in north of Brazil in a poor village," she said. 

She found Street Child United, the organization that's puts on the World Cup.

We talked about that life. "Some of the kids who are playing soccer live in a poor village or not good home lives at all. When you play soccer do you feel that," WUSA9 Sports Anchor Diane Roberts asked Drika. 

She said, "Nope, we didn't feel anything. We just love soccer."

Drika and other children often live and play in a dangerous environment. In Rio, the police and drug lords are in a war on the streets. That's where Street Child United stepped in and built a soccer field, a safe space for kids to escape the danger and just play.

Drika said the safe space, "is good for them, like in the safe space we give training sessions and teach life skills."

Drika, an ambassador for the organization, was part of the Street Child World Cup winning team in 2014. She said, "It was amazing. I couldn't explain how amazing it was."

Hewitt says the first Street Child World Cup was in 2010 because, "street children being rounded-up, beaten, taken out of town these are kids who play soccer every day and its an opportunity to give them a platform."

Only 10 children from the U.S. will be chosen for the team. The Street Child World Cup has grown from 80 children in 2010 to 230 children at the last competition in 2014. They play again in Moscow next year.

© 2017 WUSA-TV


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