It has been wonderful to have you all on this journey with us that started many years ago bringing a completely unknown sport to a community on the periphery of metropolitan São Paulo. We are sad to have to share that this journey is coming to an end: all through the pandemic we kept up with our pupils and did our best to keep them active and positive, however this year even though we have been able to train normally, children have not come back to the sport as they did previously and also have many new challenges, especially around mental health.
We have definitely had a lot more ups than downs and dozens of boys and girls, young men and women have had their lives transformed by rugby and the deep values that are worked on a daily basis. Seven rugby players went to England for ten days and had their first experience not only of international travel and getting to know a different culture but also their first time in a plane. Sérgio, one of our first players who went to England has since represented Brazil and played club rugby traveling all over South America; through rugby Wedja structured her life and has gone on to university - a first in her family. All of those who have taken part in rugby over the years have most definitely had their horizons broadened, taking part in festivals and championships all over the state of São Paulo playing with and against players from all different social classes and backgrounds.
So it is a big thank you and a goodbye for now but we hope that you will continue to support our other projects.
Sérgio started training rugby aged 15 in 2017, in his words "I saw kids training from a distance and thought it looked really funny and then some of my friends started playing rugby and so I decided to start going to the training sessions to hang out with them and with other people. It was then I discovered that there was also the opportunity to travel and get to know new places through rugby."
He took to the game staright away and developed very quickly and he said that the different coaches, both male and female, he had during the 3 years with us were really important role models and has special thanks for Orlando, Mauricio, Greg, Lilian and Wedja. He took part in our U17 team that competed in the São Paulo State chamionship and his quality was recognised by many coaches and teams which led to him being called up by the Brazilian National youth squad to train with them in São José dos Campos. This was the first stage of an independent rugby journey which he is now on - aged 17, he had never taken the metro or a long distance bus by himself before and our coordinator, Orlando, took him for the first journey and since then he has been on many more.
Sérgio is passionate about rugby which he says "has changed my life in many ways giving me self-discipline and responsibility and being a rugby player is fantastic because I live doing something that I love and feel really good playing." He tells us that "the high point of my rugby career so far has been to play for the Cobras, the only Brazilian team in the professional SLAR (American Rugby Super League) and my dream is to play in the World Cup." The competition took him to play matches in Argentina, Uruguay and Chile - an amazing experience for him.
We at ACER are very proud of Sério and all that he has achieved once he became an adult as our mission is to help children and teenagers to develop all of their potential so that when they are adults, they, like Sérgio, can forge successful and autonomous lives and be examples to others in their community.
In February, ACER and SP Saracens Bandeirantes Rugby started a partnership for our youthplayers to start training on Saturdays, in addition to training at SESI Diadema during the week. This will help develop their skills and also enable them to take part in competitions as part of a mixed Band Saracens and Diadema Rhinos team.
Our students have enjoyed the training a lot, according to Nicolas, “Participating in the training is a way of learning something new in a different way, at Band we train exercises that help in coordination and resistance, the experience is great”. Roger adds: “It's been cool, training rugby helps me physically and I don't get sedentary. Participating in rugby gives me the opportunity to have a better future. I've been learning more things and developing myself better in addition to meeting new people who help me on this new journey”.
Band rugby coach Eduardo told us about the experience of working with our teenagers: “I am very happy, they come to train, they trust Band here as an institution for the boys, because here is a good place for them, this is very important for us, to make a difference for them. I really enjoy coaching, I'm just trying to give back to the sport what the sport has already given me. So as long as I can help children and teenagers from all social classes or anything, it doesn't matter here in the Band everyone gets together and everyone is equal. I see an evolution in the boys mainly as a group, the partnership between Band and ACER I analyze as something beneficial for both clubs.”
We look forward to bringing more news about this exciting partnership during the year.
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