THE WORLD FAMOUS PLAYER ALSO ROCKS ON SOCIAL PROJECTS
By Alexandre Soares, Magali Magalhães and Nanda Cattani

Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior, a.k.a. Neymar Jr, is currently considered one of the best soccer players in the world. At only 24, the Brazilian athlete has built a career that many dreams of, but just a few can really achieve. Besides being one of the best (and well-paid) soccer players in the world, Neymar is very active on social media and dedicated to social projects.

PHOTO: Helena Passarelli/Instituto Projeto Neymar Jr. Promotion
PHOTO: Helena Passarelli/Instituto Projeto Neymar Jr. Promotion

PHOTO: Helena Passarelli/Instituto Projeto Neymar Jr. Promotion

With all the talent and fame, the star is also an enthusiast of social actions. On December 23, 2014, Neymar and his family opened Instituto Projeto Neymar Jr. (INJR)
a nongovernmental organization dedicated to under privileged children and families. It’s a huge educational and sport-focused complex located in Jardim Glória, Praia Grande-SP, where the player spent part of his childhood.

Know the project the institute has priorities such as the social commitment, the defense and consolidation of family values and aims to change the community life through knowledge and opportunities. To increase social insertion and active participation from the community, the NGO offers after-school activities -whether educational or sport ones- to children and families from the region.

PHOTO: Helena Passarelli/Instituto Projeto Neymar Jr. Promotion
PHOTO: Helena Passarelli/Instituto Projeto Neymar Jr. Promotion

For the kids, it’s applied a methodology that focus on recognizing values such as team work, effort, motivation and humbleness.
A similar educational program has been successfully applied at Futbol Net, social project from Barcelona F.C.

PHOTO- Helena Passarelli-Instituto Projeto Neymar Jr. Promotion-6

To take part in the activities, it’s not mandatory that kids have any sport skills, but it’s fundamental that they are enrolled in one of the municipal schools from the region with attested high attendance. Kids must be from 7 to 14 years old. The participation of
a second family member is also mandatory.

To hold all this structure, the institute was built on a 90.000 square-foot area from the City Hall. The place offers sports courts, swimming pools, gym facilities, cinema, cafeteria, auditorium, library, a healthcare area and rooms for social assistance, computers and multimidia. The cost of the project was about 12 million dollars. From that amount, more that half was invested by Neymar himself and the rest was collected from partners and Fundação Barcelona, team where he currently plays.

PHOTO: Helena Passarelli/Instituto Projeto Neymar Jr. Promotion
PHOTO: Helena Passarelli/Instituto Projeto Neymar Jr. Promotion

We had a conversation with Neymar Jr:

1- How did you come up with the idea of Instituto Neymar Jr.?
Doing something for families in Jardim Glória (neighborhood where Neymar spent his childhood) has always been a dream for my family. As my career developed, this dream could come true. We obviously didn’t think of something so big, but my parents have always wanted to build something there.

2- How long did it take from the project creation to the Institute opening day?
From the dream to starting the activities I can’t say, it’s been a few years. But the construction started in 2013 and in 2015 we started offering activities for the local community.

3- Even living abroad, can you keep track of the changes and the evolution of the institute?
My mom is the president of the institute and she always keeps me uptaded about the current actions and projects. Even though it’s hard because of professional appointments, I try to have an active role for ideas and projects and I have full trust in the people chosen to lead the project. Even when we are at the training ground, preparing for a match, I can keep track of the news on the website and all the other social media. Making my family’s dream come true is very thankful and watching how it helps families is wonderful.

4- How do you analyze the institute’s growth after one year and a half?
As my father usually says, the institute is still a baby that needs a lot of care and some corrections. But the development comes as we’ve expected, I even think it has overcome our first expectations. But the transformation we’ve dreamed of is just beginning.

5- So far, what’s the institute’s biggest goal?
So far I think the main goal was improving school attendance. In the beginning of our activities, at- tendance was 60%, now we were able to improve it to 80%, which means that more kids are going to school in order to participate in the institute’s activities. Another important thing is that some families could get a job because of the professionalizing courses we offer. We celebrate our goals, but we know the game is still on.

PHOTO: Helena Passarelli/Instituto Projeto Neymar Jr. Promotion
PHOTO: Helena Passarelli/Instituto Projeto Neymar Jr. Promotion

6- How does family’s participation mainly help children’s development?
I think the most important is that parents get involved and interested in their kids’s dreams, that they live the same reality. That’s what happened to me and my parents and that’s the experience we want to repeat at the institute. That when a child gets home, full of new experiences to share with his par- ents, they know the importance of that conversation in their lives… It’s a rescue of family’s importance.

8- What are the requisites to attend the institute?
The child must be from 7 to 14 years old, be enrolled in one of the schools near the institute and the family must do any activity over there. The institute is for the family, not just for the children.

9- Are there any evaluations to keep a child at the institute?
The most important is school attendance. The success of this project depends on the kid’s attendance and performance at school.

10- Can a 7-year-old child continuously participate in the institute activities untile he becomes 14?
Yes, he stays all these years with us. We have just started a night project to assist children over 14 and now they can stay a little longer with us.

PHOTO- Romão Filmes
PHOTO- Romão Filmes

13- Which other sports are priority at the institute?
All sports are treated as priority at the institute. Besides soccer, kids can practice judo, volleyball, handball, basketball and swimming.

14- What are the institute’s plans for the future?
Currently our plan is to make our activity solid. As I’ve mentioned before, the institute is still a baby.

15- Are there plans of opening new facilities in Brazil?
Yes, after everything is working properly in Jardim Glória. But we still have a lot to do before talking about expansion.

PHOTO: Helena Passarelli/Instituto Projeto Neymar Jr. Promotion
PHOTO: Helena Passarelli/Instituto Projeto Neymar Jr. Promotion

16- How are you received by kids when you visit the institute?
With a lot of love, just like any other sportsperson or celebrity who visits the institute. They love it. They ask a lot of questions, want to know everything and I think it’s really cool to answer to all of them. I guess it motivates them because I was just like every single kid who is there. They have as many opportunities as I did.

17- What’s the feeling of helping so many families at the same time?
It’s amazing! I’m from the area, I used to live very close to where the institute is and back then it was hard to have access to sport and leisure. We created this institute to offer a little of something we didn’t have.

18- How can a company become a partner?
First of all, I want to make clear that we are a non-profit institution, so any company that wants to become a partner must wish to help those kids in order to keep their dreams. To learn more about how to participate, contact us at the e-mail contato@institutonjr.org.br

19- Can any person contribute with donations?
Yes, you can contribute with anything you want: donation of products and material, actions for the kids and even professionalizing courses.

20- What message would you give to the kids at the institute?
That they keep fighting for their dreams, that they work hard and mainly that they have a lot of fun. Don’t forget school, it’s very important and it will make each of you a great citizen. We’ll meet on my next visit.

PHOTO: Helena Passarelli/Instituto Projeto Neymar Jr. Promotion
PHOTO: Helena Passarelli/Instituto Projeto Neymar Jr. Promotion
PHOTO- Helena Passarelli-Instituto Projeto Neymar Jr. Promotion-9
PHOTO: Helena Passarelli/Instituto Projeto Neymar Jr. Promotion