Viva Rio sees sports as instrument of inclusion, driver of social change and source of joy. We have a professional football club in Brazil, the Black Pearls, which is currently composed of Haitian refugees and Brazilians. Our academies in Haiti and Brazil are home, school and training center for young people searching for a better future. They are environments of integration for immigrants and at-risk youth, and meet all of FIFA’s requirements for playing in championships.
About 150 athletes, boys and girls from the age of 11, live and study at the Black Pearls Academy on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince, in the Caribbean country.
Programs developed by the Black Pearls Academy combine matches and exercise with education and promotion of peace and citizenship values. Therefore, youth have the opportunity to develop physical skills and interpersonal abilities that are key to achieve a fulfilling life. Through the combination of football and education, the program fosters teamwork, sense of responsibility and discipline and helps the kids to manage their feelings in the face of harsh circumstances.
After turning 16 years old, the young athletes who have shown the most talent and desire are invited to train in Brazil, where they can find real possibilities of a place in the world of football. The Black Pearls participate in some of the country’s biggest football competitions (professional, U-20 and U-17 levels), and young Haitians have been signing contracts with major Brazilian clubs.
THIS IS WHY VIVA RIO WANTS TO PRESENT THE BLACK PEARLS TO THE ENTIRE WORLD. A CAREER IN FOOTBAL IS AN ACHIEVABLE AND PROMISING FUTURE FOR HUNDREDS OF YOUNG BOYS AND GIRLS WHO HAVE HAD TO LEAVE THEIR COUNTRIES FOR POLITICAL OR HUMANITARIAN REASONS.
The players are welcome
The Brazilian Football Confederation rules that clubs may field a maximum of five foreign players per match. However, the institution now considers refugees and immigrants arriving in Brazil as Brazilian athletes for humanitarian reasons, so the Haitians from the Black Pearls can compete in official tournaments.
Beyond the fields
The purpose of the Black Pearls is to train football players, but we know that not all our athletes will end up making a living playing football. Therefore, even with the strenuous training routine, we do not neglect a single day of their cultural and academic education. We thus ensure that those who do not pursue a career in football will be prepared to compete for jobs in or outside this market, whether in Brazil or not.