Former Nigeria football coach Bora Milutinovic has been teaching soccer to poor children in Brazil to stop them turning to a life of violence and crime.
The 74-year-old – who led Nigeria to the last 16 of the 1998 World Cup in France – visited to Rio de Janeiro with former Barcelona player Evaristo de Macedo.
The pair have teamed up with Qatar’s Generation Amazing programme which aims to promote football at grassroots as part of the legacy of the 2022 tournament, which Doha is hosting.
Milutinovic holds the record for leading five teams to consecutive World Cups – earning him the nickname ‘Miracle Worker’.
They were Mexico (1986), Costa Rica (1990), the United States (1994), Nigeria (1998) and China (2002).
Nigeria won its group with the help of a 3-2 win over Spain, but lost to Denmark in the last 16.
Milutinovic, from Serbia, managed to take all the teams beyond the first round group stage, except China.
In Rio, Generation Amazing worked with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and Flamengo FC to provide football training to local youngsters.
The sessions were attended by boys and girls from Campo Grande, Favela do Vidigal and Cicade de Deus, with the aim of promoting ‘youth empowerment, inclusion and resilience’ through sport.
The project followed on from the UNODC’s ‘Line Up, Live Up’ programme, which used sport-based initiatives as a tool to prevent youth violence and crime.
Generation Amazing has reached 500,000 people in disadvantaged parts of thew world such as Nepal, Pakistan, Jordan, Lebanon, the Philippines and India – and hopes to benefit a million people by the time the tournament kicks off in three and a half years’ time.
The event was arranged to coincide with Qatar’s appearance at the Copa America tournament in South America this month.
Talking about the Generation Amazing project Milutinovic said: ‘Sport can help young people to think differently. Thanks to sport you can learn discipline, motivation, team spirit, how to be respectful, all of the values that you need to be successful in life.
‘The decisive factor is to be aware of how we can improve the world. The best way to do this is to share knowledge, and people who have experience can share a lot of things with children who don’t have these opportunities.’
The organisers said the aim of the Rio project was to ‘empower young boys and girls to become socially responsible citizens by helping them build life skills to better cope with the daily life challenges and move away from involvement in violence, crime or drug use’.
Hassan Al Thawadi, Secretary General of Qatar’s Supreme Committee, said: ‘Generation Amazing and the UNODC are natural partners as both entities seek to positively affect children’s lives in areas of the world most in need of assistance.
‘Generation Amazing seeks to effect that improvement in lives through the power of football and today’s event is a wonderful showcase of that immense power in action.
‘We sincerely appreciate the involvement of Flamengo, Evaristo and Bora Milutinovic for bringing the event to life and assisting in providing the children in attendance with a day to remember’.