Neymar makes disabled children smile by ‘kicking ball’
A group of smiling disabled children was given the chance of a lifetime, to shoot a soccer ball for the first time ever with the help of professional soccer players at the 2015 World Boot competition in Praia Grande, Brazil.
The event was organized by Brazilian soccer superstar Neymar’s Neymar Jr. Institute Project and Smile Flame.
Some of the biggest names in Brazilian soccer, including several members from past and present national teams, strapped on a specially made boot that allowed them to team up with a disabled child and shoot a soccer ball together.
Most of the children are unable to walk and had never had the chance to kick a soccer ball before in their lives.
The exhilarated kids got prepared for their soccer debuts in a locker room at the stadium in Praia Grande where the event was held as they envisioned their shots on goal.
“I’m gonna be the goalkeeper and the kids are going wear a boot from each team and with each of the (professional) players,” said 11-year-old participant, Getulio.
“I think I am going to score a goal,” said 7-year-old Ryan.
The tournament included 16 kids and 16 soccer stars who competed in a “World Cup” of sorts, with each pair representing a different country in a shootout competition.
“I’m excited to shoot the ball today,” said Gabriel who is 9-years-old.
Some of the pros included Felipe Anderson and Mauricio of Lazio; Elano from Santos; Cruzeiro’s Julio Baptista; and former players Serginho Chulapa and Lima from Santos FC; Gabriel who played for Fluminense; Leo of Santos; Nene of PSG and Denilson who played for Brazil when they won the 2002 FIFA World Cup.
In the end it was team England that won the Boot Cup and was presented the championship trophy by Neymar himself.
Neymar, who plays for the Brazilian national team and Barcelona in Spain said was happy to see his Institute giving back to the community just outside Santos where he got his start in soccer when he was just 11-years-old.
“I am really proud to be part of this great programme, this great party. To congratulate the three teams up here on the stage, and everyone who participated as well. Thank you very much. I am very happy and very proud of what is happening here at my (Neymar Jr.) Institute. It makes me very happy, a warm thanks to everyone for their kindness, let’s enjoy it. Thank you,” Neymar said.
The aims of the institute are to help low-income students succeed in the classroom and on the field of play whether it be in soccer, basketball, judo or a number of other sports.
After the event Neymar said he was happy with his season with Barcelona, in which he netted the goal that wrapped up Barcelona’s Champions League triumph against Juventus.
“I am happy with the season I had, to have won a lot of titles. And even happier with the programme here at the (Neymar Jr.) Institute,” he said.
Neymar and Brazil’s fortunes were not as bright at the 2015 Copa America in Chile.
Neymar was sent home early from the tournament after he was handed a four-match ban following scuffles on the pitch during Brazil’s 1-0 defeat against Colombia.
Brazil bowed out of the tournament early and Chile went on to win their first ever Copa America.