Six graduates from Street League Tees Valley, which is funded by Barclays, are enjoying the experience of a lifetime at the FIFA Football for Hope Festival in Rio.

Street League is one of 32 members of the streetfootballworld network represented at the Festival, which runs for 10 days during the latter stages of the World Cup in Brazil.

Here some of the participants, three women and three men aged between 16 and 18 from Middlesbrough and Hartlepool, give daily updates on their experiences: 

DAY EIGHT: JACK

“I thought that Ronaldo opening events was great, but to have another Brazilian World Cup legend, Cafu, attend the closing ceremony was brilliant. The ceremony involved each delegation being presented with a medal and certificate of participation. It was great to see teams cheer and congratulate each other regardless of score or results. Cafu presented the winning team, Cape Verde, with their trophy and then we were quickly taken to the indoor pitch to take part in Brazilian percussion. Each delegation played a drum in another show of the unity produced throughout the trip. After this it was time for dinner and then the start of the closing party, by now delegations were all friends and people were dancing, singing and bombarding the stage. There was a real flavour of music from countries all over the world, as well as many different dance moves! Myself, Michael and Rob decided to show just how we English like to entertain and using one of the flags we received, we decided to clear a path through the dance floor and show them some of moves from Middlesbrough! This was well received and showed the spirit and camaraderie in the camp during a truly memorable trip to Brazil.” 

DAY SEVEN: ROB

“At first I was really upset I could not participate with my team in the tournament after breaking my ankle, but I was relieved that I did not have to return home early and miss out on supporting my team-mates. It was hard watching the team knowing I could not influence the play on the pitch, however If I have learned anything from this experience it is that my troubles are far less than those of others we have had the privilege of meeting during the trip. I took on a coach’s role and tried my best to rally the troops from the sidelines. This wasn't always easy and some of our results reflected that. Even though the results weren't as we had planned, it was really nice to have Leandro come in and take my place with the team. Leandro is from Caju in the favela where the Football For Hope Festival was based. It was great to have a local lad as part of our team and although the language barrier was hard, we made him part of our team and now have Street League presence in the heart of Caju.” 

DAY SIX: JACK

"After a busy day it was time to watch the main game of the day, Brazil versus Germany. There was a great atmosphere in the auditorium as all delegations poured in to watch what promised to be an exciting game. Six teams at the Festival are from Brazil so they were in buoyant mood as the national anthem was sang before kick-off. Many of the streetfootballworld staff are from Germany and this made for great banter between everyone! The scoreline was something nobody could have predicted, and the Brazilians were left shocked and speechless within the first 30 minutes. The second half was watched by a much smaller crowd, who saw Brazil beaten 7-1 on home soil. It was a sad way to exit the World Cup for our wonderful hosts but I can honestly say that the atmosphere in the camp has not been affected and everyone was laughing and getting along great come the next morning."

DAY FIVE: ROB

 

"Street League’s football team competed in the Football for Hope Festival, and we had a good start in our first game drawing 1-1. The next game did not go to plan and we were beat by a strong Zambian team, however we did manage to score three points for our fair play which will hopefully keep us in contention to progress. After a rest and a really positive team meeting organised by the young people, our last game was the best we have played yet. We passed, moved and exploited the space that the Costa Ricans left us, but their goalkeeper was in top form and pulled off a number of great saves, not to mention the post which Jack nearly broke with a thunderbolt!" 

DAY FOUR: ROB

“Today we went up Sugar Loaf Mountain. After a very early start, we drove along Copacabana Beach to reach the bottom of the mountain. I was excited as we waited in the queue to board the cable cars that would take us to the summit. As we reached the stop I couldn't believe the view, but I was then told that we were only halfway up the mountain and were actually going in another cable car to the top! The view here was even more spectacular, with a 360 degree view of Rio de Janeiro, which was simply out of this world.

“Later on we delivered a cultural awareness presentation about the North-East of England, in particular Hartlepool and Middlesbrough. We were all apprehensive as we had to deliver this to 400 people, all of whom speak different languages. However the feedback we received was excellent and Dean, the Street League Operations Manager, has been asked further questions by his fellow delegate leaders.”

DAY THREE: JACK

“It’s difficult to put into words the day we have had! I woke up full of excitement in the morning as we were due to visit the world-famous Maracana to watch the World Cup quarter-final between France and Germany. As we pulled up to the stadium I wasn't sure I was in the right place, but once we entered the gates it was amazing to see this great stadium.

“The atmosphere inside the stadium was amazing and it didn't matter that people were not French or German, the chants still flowed for more than 90 minutes. A real highlight was when the Football for Hope Festival teams started a Mexican wave which managed to do three laps of the Maracana! Germany won the match 1-0.”

DAY TWO: ROB

“The first two days have really set the tone for the trip. The atmosphere and energy is out of this world. I have enjoyed the mixed cultural groups, getting to know the perspectives of other delegations on how football changes lives in their countries and communities.

“I really enjoyed the opening ceremony where we got to watch a ‘Capoeira’ demonstration (Brazilian martial art) and listen to guest speakers explain about FIFA Football for Hope. The activities were great too; my favourite was a team-building game which involved pairing up with a partner from a different country to try to get a ball into a box using any part of our body except our hands and arms!” 

DAY ONE: JACK

“After a long journey to Rio we arrived at our hotel and went straight to the venue in Caju for a tour. We then went to the FIFA football museum, where we watched a presentation to commemorate the death of the Colombian footballer Andres Escobar, who was shot during the 1994 World Cup.

“It has been fantastic to meet other people from different countries, learning their names, ages and finding out a little bit about them. I thought the celebrations were great as everyone got involved - even our team got up to dance and join in!” 

Click here to see more pictures from the trip.