Soccer superstar sets up school

PUBLISHED : Monday, 23 April, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 23 April, 2007, 12:00am

Brazilian soccer star Ronaldinho has launched an institute in his home city, Porto Alegre, to help underprivileged children.

The facility, which started operating late last month, aims to provide poor children with access to education, healthcare and cultural activities.

'With the launch of the Ronaldinho Gaucho Institute, that dream of helping the most vulnerable children and youth in Porto Alegre has come true,' said the world-famous football player Ronaldo Assis de Moreira, better known as Ronaldinho, at the opening ceremony last December.

The Institute can help 3,500 youngsters a month.

They will take part in football, tennis and other sports, as well as attending workshops on information technology, languages, theatre and music.

The school, which covers nearly 120,000 square metres, employs 100 staff including doctors, dentists and teachers.

It has a soccer field that meets the standards set by the International Federation of Football Associations (Fifa), as well as 47,000 square metres of forest, two multi-purpose soccer fields, two tennis pitches, two swimming pools and a 4,000-seat gym.

Ronaldinho, twice FIFA world player of the year, is one of the world's best known sports figures.

He has been appointed as the UN goodwill ambassador to help to reduce poverty.

The children's cartoon Ronaldinho Gaucho's Team, in which the characters are based on the player and his family, is published around the world.

The UN is cooperating with the institute and will provide technical advice and assist in the selection and recruitment of professional staff.

The initiative shows the power of sport to help achieve the UN's Millennium Development Goals, a set of targets to slash poverty and other global ills by 2015.