An important part of the project is the social responsibility that VfL Wolfsburg has as a Bundesliga club. Together with Wolfsburg United and its partners, Land of People promotes projects for disadvantaged children. They support projects for children in Brazil and Mexico. In Brazil, sports, learning, and educational opportunities are being created for girls and boys in poor neighbourhoods. The aim is to help girls and boys develop their potential and strengthen their skills. In the Mexican city of Puebla, the partner organisation Juconi looks after neglected and working children, as well as former street children.
The focus is on the metropolis of Sao Paulo. Many people here are disconnected from the economic development of the country, and children and young people in particular only have limited opportunities in life. Their everyday lives are marked by poverty and poor schooling, and there are few meaningful recreational sites like playgrounds or sports areas. Children are thus deprived of important opportunities to develop and grow. A major problem here is violence, which is unfortunately a part of everyday life in Brazilian society and something that many children are exposed to. Therefore, violence prevention is an important aspect of the project work: the children and young people can learn to how to create a life for themselves without joining an armed gang. One way for social workers to reach and teach them is through sports and games: playing football together or other creative recreational activities in the protected spaces of a youth centre, for example, makes them less susceptible to drug use, violence, or sexual assault. Together with social workers, the girls and boys try to improve their chances of graduating from school and entering the labour market.
One focus is preventive work with children who work on the streets. Through social work and educational offers, Juconi wants to prevent children from leaving home and ending up on the streets. For example, the Juconi centre is located near a large market where whole families often work. To prevent children from dropping out of school early to work as dayworkers in the market, Juconi offers opportunities such as tutoring, sports, and games for the girls and boys.
Juconi also has a home for former street children. In the morning, they attend state schools; then in the afternoon they work in the Juconi bakery. In addition, Juconi runs a job programme together with several companies in Puebla, where young people can get to know different companies through internships and apply for jobs. Through Juconi, they also get the opportunity to rebuild a relationship with their parents and return home. Working with families is important for this. Juconi has also developed a family therapy programme that strengthens both the children and the parents, and thus the family as a whole. In joint training sessions, the families learn to solve family conflicts without violence. With success too: many families succeeded in taking back the “rejected” or “runaway” children.
VfL international Football School
In addition, VfL Wolfsburg, in cooperation with Volkswagen and as part of its international CSR activities in the respective countries of the Wolfsburg United partners, focus on a visit to the VfL Football School. During the training sessions, the children not only follow the instructions of the coaching team, led by former VfL pro Roy Präger, but they are also taught important values such as team spirit and fair play along the way. “Getting children and young people in the partner countries excited about football and VfL Wolfsburg in particular is also an interesting challenge for us coaches,” said Präger. Professional training camps have already been implemented in China and Mexico over the course of the Wolfsburg United project. “Working with the children is huge fun, no matter where they come from,” the VfL idol continued.