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Sao Paulo slum kids challenge World Cup winners to play with them

Youngsters from a slum on the outskirts of Sao Paulo’s Guarulhos airport have thrown down a World Cup gauntlet: they have challenged the competition winners to play a match against them.

With support from an NGO called Techo, the players from Anita Futbol Club in the Anita Garibaldi slum issued their cheeky invite to whichever team lifts the trophy on July 13.

They want the professionals to see for themselves their favela, or slum, whose tumbledown housing for about 3,000 families has no water supplies or connection to the electricity grid. 

Local youngsters play here – the favela is named after the Brazilian wife of Italian revolutionary Giuseppe Garibaldi – until after nightfall, trying to emulate the idols they have so far only seen on television, but want to meet in the flesh. 

Youngsters play football at the Anita Garibaldi shantytown (favela), in Guarulhos, Sao Paulo, Brazil on June 16, 2014.

Youngsters play football at the Anita Garibaldi shantytown (favela), in Guarulhos, Sao Paulo, Brazil. 

"If they believe, so do I"

“I would like to play Brazil because that way the majority of players would be returning to their roots, the pitches where they learned to play football in this country,” says Anita FC’s proud coach Alexandre Romao, a 35-year-old civil servant.

He says in the dressing room he tries to motivate his players as if he were Luiz Felipe Scolari, Brazil’s much-decorated coach.

“I’ve embraced this utopian ideal (of challenging the world champions) as I see the boys believe it is going to happen.

“And if they believe it, then so do I,” says Romao.

Another resident of the area, Adenaclay Goncalves dos Santos, said: “God willing it will really happen. They deserve it, they’ve made a real effort.

“Here, making something of your life is a daily battle. It’s much more difficult than winning the World Cup.”

Source: AFP