A group of Major League Soccer players is working to make a difference for the youth of Brazil in education and sports. FCDallas.com chatted with players involved to find out more about this unique project.
FCDallas.com: Tell us more about this initiative that got most Brazilians in the MLS involved.
Ricardo Villar: Sure. The Jogada Nota 10 is a non-profit organization established to connect education with sports in Brazil by introducing the ‘student-athlete’ concept in our youth development system.
FCDallas.com: You’ve made us aware about your cause with your season opener goal celebration and we had a chance to hear from Bruno about this issue in the following video. What is the problem in Brazil?
Paulo Nagamura (Sporting Kansas City): Growing up in Brazil, it was very difficult to follow both paths of education and soccer at a high level. You are literally forced to choose between the two.
Villar: Clubs are investing in finding the next Neymar whatever the cost. And by that I mean the cost of a kid’s stolen youth and a chance at a promising future outside of soccer, given that the great majority of them do not turn pro.
On the other hand, we suffer from a failed public education system. And, our private schools’ main focus is on who places the most high school graduates in University of Sao Paulo, top in the country. There is very little incentive for sports in our schools.
Our aim is to impose a culture that values both academics and sports, as equally important to the development of our youth in Brazil. JN10 is a long-term project towards a more educated society.
FCDallas.com: So, how did this movement start?
Villar: JN10 itself is a very young organization. However, long before its official inception, JN10’s founders have been working on their mission to provide a solution for talented Brazilian youngsters, who desire to continue following their sports dreams without having to sacrifice their educational growth.
Several kids were prepared and sent to college in the U.S. under scholarships. They overcame the cultural shock and language barrier and grabbed on to this opportunity to change their lives with all they had. The first class has recently graduated with a very promising future now ahead of them.
JN10 has been a challenging learning experience. We are committed to grow and impact the lives of many more, eventually getting to the root of the problem in Brazil.
FCDallas.com: Who is behind this?
Villar: JN10 was founded by a group of Brazilians who grew up competing in their sports back home, but also had the chance to observe the other side of the coin during their experiences abroad. The JN10 family continues to grow, as new JN10 Ambassadors continue to join in from different sports, like Jaime Oncins(former ATP, BRA Davis Cup tennis player). We are also very proud to now count with the support of Juninho, Marcelo and Davi in LA, Saragosa and Maicon in DC, Paulinho Nagamura in KC, and Felipe in Montreal.
FCDallas.com: Can you reach the ears of some major multinational companies in the U.S.?
Villar: It would be very welcomed. We are working on our awareness campaign, hoping to build some ‘muscle’ with companies that share our vision and a synergy to invest on a better Brazil. JN10 presents some interesting sponsoring opportunities and a unique marketing appeal.
FCDallas.com: Can anyone donate? And if so, how?
Villar: Yes. Donations can be made on the site via credit card or deposits - jogadanota10.org
But, companies with businesses based in Brazil are the ones who can benefit the most with tax-deductible donations on JN10 projects.
FCDallas.com: What are these projects?
Villar: Well, we do get involved with other charities in their activities from time to time.
But, JN10 was mainly set up to serve as host to projects approved under the Brazilian ‘sports incentive law’. We have separated our projects in 2 categories: selecting and developing. This would give opportunities for under privileged kids, that otherwise would not have the chance to expose their talents. The selected ones would enter a developmental program providing academic and social support, along with the high performance training. This would now open up different options for a more promising future.
FCDallas.com: Maybe some Olympians will come out of that to help Brazil earn some medals?
Villar: We would be proud if it did, but most importantly what we do not want to see any longer are stories like the one from two medalists Brazilian brothers, who had to train using banana tree as equipment with zero incentive whatsoever. We are proud to have heroes like them, but ashamed as citizens of a country that exposes them to such scenarios and difficulties.
FCDallas.com: The next Olympics will be in Rio. Will Brazil be ready?
Marcelo Saragosa (DC United): We have to be ready. The world is coming! It is our chance to grow as a nation. And JN10 will do what it can to collaborate in building on and off the field champions for generations to come.
FCDallas.com: Villar, our last question is a fun one. You had a birthday recently. We want to know if you could choose anyone to have dinner with, who would that be?
Villar: This is a tricky question, which I don’t fall for anymore. So, I will begin by saying that aside from my beautiful wife ☺, I would without a doubt choose Eike Batista! Someone like-minded who would share our vision and have the immediate resources needed to promote these positive changes in Brazil with JN10.