Glenn Mason

Favela World Cup

Salvador, Brazil

Football is unique in its global reach. There may have been different languages spoken here, but the passion for the game was the same.

It's a game that brings people together, when so often in the past sport has been exploited to create divisions in communities.

The cultural exchange element of the FBB project was shown when a German family from Stuttgart managed to return a favour to their host family.

The Germans were in possession of a much-coveted ticket for Germany v Portugal, and rather than sell it on the black market for well above its face value, they decided to take the daughter of their hosts.
More than 70 football fans from across the world came together in Salvador on Sunday morning to celebrate their common bond - a love of football.

The Favela World Cup is one of a number of legacy projects set up in the northern city by the London-based non-profit organisation Football Beyond Borders.

The event saw fans and locals represent the eight teams who will play in the city's Arena Fonte Nova during the World Cup group stages.
However, it is not just fans of teams playing at the World Cup who made an appearance at the event. There were a few familiar accents from closer to home.

Wicklow lads Ciaran Dornan, Dan Burke and Kevin Rouse made contact with Football Beyond Borders after reading an article in the Guardian newspaper.

The three guys are sharing a house in the favela for R$200 a night, which works out at about €60.

Any notions they had about life in the favela and the people living there have been dispelled since they arrived.

Dan Burke said it's a "complete culture shock", but everyone has been very welcoming.

So positive has been his experience been out here, he is encouraging others to come out to Salvador and see what it has to offer.
The group is also running the Talk.Play.Learn project, which aims to teach English to the local children through football. It seeks to motivate them to continue their education.

Its third initiative sees World Cup fans staying with local families in the Alto de Ondina favela.

As a result, the families receive World Cup income that they wouldn't otherwise get, which allows them to upgrade their homes or invest it in other ways for the future.

One of the Football Beyond Borders founders, Jack Reynolds, explains the aims of its projects.
"It's a whole different experience coming from Wicklow, where there is fields and sheep and cows ... Seeing how alike we are but in different ways is amazing. To see us coming together through sport is great." -Kevin Rouse.
FIFA hopes that this World Cup will leave a positive legacy for Brazil and its people, but with the country's numerous socio-economic issues that seems overly optimistic.

The Brazilian government has spent €12bn on this World Cup with ordinary people, like those in Alto de Ondina, seeing little of it or its effects.

The goal therefore for Football Beyond Borders and its Favela World Cup is a little different - a fun day out.

The better teams left with medals and trophies, but everyone left with memories of an enjoyable day.
The Irish guys had mixed fortunes on the pitch, but neither that nor the heavy showers during the early games could ruin their day.

Bosnia emerged as the eventual winners by beating The Netherlands in a dramatic sudden death penalty shootout.

There was also the bonus of tickets for Germany v Portugal for the top goalscorer and best player, with both awards going to local players.

With the football done for the day, it was back to the favela for local food and a samba party.