In the first weekend of April, young residents in central Rio were handed the opportunity to participate in a series of Olympic and Paralympic sports, thanks to the latest edition of the Transforma Sport Festival organised as part of the Rio 2016 Education Programme.
Kids from the Gamboa district, which is home to the city’s oldest favela community, Providência, gathered in a celebration of sport, trying their hands at a range of sports at the Vila Olímpica community sports centre.
The sports on the menu included volleyball, athletics, tennis, five-a-side football for the visually impaired, table tennis, boccia, badminton, judo, taekwondo, goalball, fencing, windsurfing, golf and canoeing.
The smiles on the kids’ faces said it all. “I’ve enjoyed sports since I was little,” said 12-year-old Ionara Santana. “Today I played golf for the first time, and later I want to try table tennis. It’s a lot better than staying at home doing nothing. There is sport for everybody here, whatever their race, colour, size or age.”
For 16-year-old Mateus da Silva Lima, the event had a greater social meaning. “I live opposite Providência, and I have seen many of my friends here. The festival is a great incentive to get involved in sport.”
Among the most popular activities were the varied water sports that were on offer, including windsurfing and canoeing. For Felipe Carvalheira de Siqueira, a 12-year old who is learning to swim in the Vila Olímpica, it was a great chance to put the pool to different uses.
“Although I have always liked the sea, I never thought I would be able to go canoeing,” Felipe said. “Flipping the canoe was really cool!”
The traditionally deprived Rio district is undergoing a major regeneration effort as part of the preparations for the Games. In 2014 a cable car was launched to serve Providência’s residents, while two major new museums have opened in the area, and a light rail system will soon be added to the local transport infrastructure.