Revista Væranda

After winning the Davis Project for Peace, Diego Pizano and Vinicius Campos set out to reform a neglected soccer field in Rio de Janeiro’s Morro Dos Macacos neighborhood to promote peace through sports. Watch the transformation and impact the new field has on the community through this short film by PUC’s Empresa Junior.

 The favela of Morro dos Macacos is home to tens of thousands of children and high levels of violence, drugs, and gangs. Children and adolescents in this community have few options for healthy extra-curricular activities and are often pressured to sell drugs or join gangs. Coletivo Macacos Vive was formed to address this issue and provide children with educational programming and a safe place to play, learn, and grow. Although Macacos Vive owns a small field for children to play sports, they do not have enough money to renovate their existing futsal court, so children in the community often play soccer in unsafe, non-central locations surrounding the field. By renovating Morro dos Macacos’ futsal field, One Goal Team enabled children in the area to find a safe space to focus their energy and learn skills that they can apply for the rest of their lives. Because soccer is Brazil’s favorite pastime, they also believe that it represents a culturally relevant and accessible way for children outside of school to learn and grow. Ultimately, by providing children a safe place to play and a structure to learn about peace-making, One Goal Team not only offered children the opportunity to find peace at home but also to promoted peace-making skills across the Morro dos Macacos neighborhood. 

 Rio de Janeiro’s favelas have limited educational and work opportunities which particularly affects the community’s youth. Only around half of children continue their schooling past the age of 14, and favelas have an unemployment rate of around 20%, leaving children with little to do. Schools do not provide a solution for children, since only one in four schools promote sports due to limited play areas in favelas. This makes the presence of a futsal field all the more important for children as an outlet to avoid gang activities. According to a study conducted by the United Nations coordinator on Education, Science, and Culture in Brazil, sports are an effective tool in keeping youth from falling into a cycle of crime, violence, and drug use. Sports have been found to promote mutual respect and tolerance and teach important interpersonal skills to youth – so much so that in areas where there are sports programs for children and adolescents, there is an annual drop of 30% in crime compared to the year prior. One Goal Team objective was to bring similar levels of improvement in the Morro dos Macacos neighborhood. 

One Goal Team: 

Diego Pizano has been working with children since he started a tutoring nonprofit called Bridge Tutoring in 2016. Bridge Tutoring grew to become the biggest student-run tutoring nonprofit in the city of Chicago, and Diego Pizano served as its founder and Executive Director until 2021. That same year, Diego visited Rio for the first time and discovered a country that was both very passionate about soccer and very unequal in its access to it. While in Rio, he studied Portuguese and joined a footvolley team where he met Vinícius Campos. Their shared passion for soccer and community service has kept the two in contact since then. Thereafter, Diego developed a passion for both the Portuguese language and Brazil and is a two-time recipient of the US Department of State’s Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) in 2020 and 2021. Diego is fluent in Portuguese and is currently the president and founder of the Business Organization for Latino Development (BOLD) at the University of Chicago. He hopes to go back to Rio to support the children he once played soccer with. 

Vinícius Campos is a Rio de Janeiro native who has a passion for public service. He has spent months in the first company focused on sustainability headquartered at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, and he is currently interning at a company investing in the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) space. Vinícius is also an avid sports fan with a strong preference for soccer and footvolley on the beach. His knowledge of Rio, Portuguese language skills, and cultural understanding of Brazilian people are immense assets in ensuring the project is successful. 

Diego (far right, giving us a thumbs up), and Vinícius to his right with other One Goal team members in Rio de Janeiro