Photographer equips favela children with cameras to illustrate their passion for soccer

Through the eyes of the young, we get an insight into their lives and the love of the game

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 10 May, 2014, 10:09pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 10 May, 2014, 10:09pm


In the favelas of Brazil, kids play soccer. All the time. Everywhere. With battered balls, on dusty wastelands.

In the run-up to the 2014 World Cup, veteran Agence France-Presse photographer Christophe Simon went looking for an original way tocapture this national passion for the game.

And what could be better than to invite a bunch of these kids to illustrateit through their own eyes?

I expected them to be showing me new things. But, to my surprise, it was often the other way around
Christophe Simon

At the age of 50, Simon was also feeling an increasing urge to pass on some of his accumulated wisdom to the next generation.

In collaboration with a camera company, which contributed 10 waterproof cameras, and a local man named Toni - who runs a photography shop and introduced him to the Cidade de Deus (City of God) favela in the west of Rio de Janeiro - Simon recruited a crew of young would-be snappers from the neighbourhood.

"Almost every weekend from February to May last year, Toni and I went out with groups of three to 10 children aged between 10 and 15 years old," said Simon.

"Each got a camera and was tasked with shooting pictures about football. The sessions usually lasted three to four hours, but could sometimes go on all day.

"I taught the children the basics and established a number of ground rules. The experience was exhilarating and the results astonishing.

"In the beginning I expected them to be showing me new things. But, to my surprise, it was often the other way around.

"It was me who opened the eyes of my 'students' by encouraging them to see what was around them."

Living conditions in favelas are notoriously difficult and often dangerous and the turnover in photographers was high as children either lost interest or were prevented by circumstances from continuing.

"After some time, our project became well-known in the favela and there was an influx of hopefuls. A handful stuck with it all the way.

"Of those, I remember Kauan particularly well. He was 10 and his parents were crack addicts. An incredibly lively and gifted child. Of the 50 pictures I selected, the best ones are, without doubt, by him."