A famous location, that has hosted a multitude of visitors from across the globe, experienced AFL football this week, with Richmond “taking over” Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro.
As part of the ‘Changing the Score’ project, in partnership with RMIT, Bluestone Edge and IBISS, the nine Richmond players currently touring Rio, visited Ipanema Beach to teach some young disadvantaged locals about Australian Football.
Sharing a passion for sport, the Tigers swapped the Brazilians’ round soccer ball for a Sherrin football, and got to work teaching them some skills and drills unique to Australia’s own game.
Richmond key defender, Alex Rance summed it up perfectly when he mentioned that the players weren’t in Rio to change the world, but simply to start a connection by using sport to bring people together.
“It was interesting to see the international language of sport. Even though we didn’t speak the same verbal language, as soon as we brought footballs and soccer balls out, the kids were playing around and we seemed to have this common bond,” Rance said.
“Brazilians are mad about their sport – they have fantastic agility and skills and leap. They took to it with great Brazilian flair and it was fantastic to have them be part of it.”
While sport can bring people together, there are plenty of things that can keep people apart, too. The social divide that exists in Rio, like in many other parts of the world, is strong and the players have witnessed the hardships that some of the people living in Rio’s ‘favelas’, (slums) are facing.
“There were people who lived in the city themselves, who were very ‘off-put’ and quite aggressive with the fact that the boys (from the favelas) were there. They felt that they shouldn’t be there … it was really disappointing,” Rance said.
Changing the Score is a project in partnership with Richmond Football Club, RMIT, Bluestone Edge and IBISS, with support from Karoon Gas, Rio Tinto, Costa Foundation and Drapac Group.
Click on the player above to view Alex Rance’s video diary from Rio.