New Zealand Olympic athletes will be bringing the spirit of the Olympic Games to underpriviledged kids in Rio as part of a new partnership with the city’s Mangueira community.
The relationship with the community’s social programme was announced today at an event in Mangueira attended by Her Excellency Caroline Bilkey, New Zealand Ambassador to Brazil, Presidente Chinquinho da Mangueira and New Zealand Olympic Team Chef de Mission and gold medal winning Olympic rower (Sydney 2000) Rob Waddell.
Mangueira is an underprivileged neighbourhood situated in the hills of the northern part of the 2016 Olympic Games host city. It has a population of approximately 45,000, of which 30% are children aged under 14 years. With the Mangueira social prorgamme at its heart, the community provides opportunities for sport, art, education and culture to the local population.
Through Olympian visits, coaching sessions and gifting of equipment and clothing, New Zealand athletes hope to have a positive impact on the young people of the community.
At the announcement today Waddell, a three-time Olympian himself, gave a large crowd of excited children a taste of what to expect during the Olympic Games this year. He shared his Olympic gold medal from the Sydney 2000 Games and challenged the bravest of the youngsters to a 100m sprint on two new rowing machines donated by the New Zealand team. The delegation also took part in a number of sporting activities with the youngsters including athletics, rugby sevens and traditional Brazilian capoeira.
Waddell says the partnership with the social project will enable Kiwi athletes to make a meaningful contribution to the host city while learning more about the people of Rio and its culture.
“We really want our athletes to connect with the vibrant local community and also make a positive impact on young people through sport,”
“We will share our medals, our stories and our skills to encourage sport participation. Our athletes will also benefit as they learn about a new culture and see first-hand the positive impact sport can have,” he said.
“Sport has the power to transform lives. Through sport young people develop confidence, communication, leadership and decision-making skills and we’re delighted to support the outstanding work of the Mangueira social project while we’re in Rio.
Presidente Chiquinho da Mangueira/Director of Olympic Village Samuel Belarmino said he welcomed the support of the New Zealand Olympic Team.
“Brazil is strengthening its sports development and Mangueira is part of growing sport in Brazil," he said.
"This is a very special day for Mangueira and we are very pleased that our connection with New Zealand will strenghthen sport."
The New Zealand delegation was also welcomed to Mangueira today with gymnastics and capoeira displays.
“We have been welcomed so warmly and we really enjoyed the gymnastics and capoeira displays,” said Waddell. “I was also impressed with the kids’ abilities on the rowing machines and hope they will be well-used by individuals and teams here. I certainly have spent a lot of time on them and can assure you, they get you fit!”
The relationship with Mangueria is designed to be sustainable into the future.
Her Excellency, Caroline Bilkey, New Zealand Ambassador to Brazil said New Zealand looked forward to a continuing relationship with the Mangueria social project.
“We were delighted to share the New Zealand Maori cultural art exhibition ‘Tuku Iho’ with Mangueira late last year which was a lot of fun for all those involved,” she said. “Today’s announcement marks a strengthening of this friendship that will have a positive impact on the young people of Mangueira. I know our athletes will get a lot out of it and I look forward to a continuing relationship with the Mangueira social project.”