Socio-educational impact: the Japeri Golf School was named by R&A, the highest authority in the golf world, as a model of social inclusion through sport. Since it started operating, it has had an annual average of 120 students. The vast majority show improvements in terms of behavior and performance at school. Encouraging studies is a practice that goes hand in hand with training on the course and which has produced good academic results. The project goes far beyond golf lessons and has a greater task of taking children off the streets and providing them with a healthy environment, an education and social responsibility through sport. Free of charge, students receive: the material needed to train and compete, schoolwork support and environmental preservation classes, a balanced diet, physical fitness, preventive dental treatment, an opportunity to travel to compete in other states and countries, and, furthermore, a training perspective as future athletes.
To participate in the project, which is completely free of charge, children and young people need to live in the municipalities of Engenheiro Pedreira or Japeri and attend school, with proof of regular attendance and satisfactory performance. Children start training from the age of 6 and stay there until they turn 18. Some young people who pass this age are integrated into the project to help coaches and participate in preparatory training for championships. Girls and boys are accepted, who train without distinction of gender, which is already a great advance for the sport which still has a patriarchal profile, despite the large number of women who play.
The reality of the municipality
Located in one of the cities with the lowest Human Development Index in Rio de Janeiro State, the Japeri public course feels like an oasis amidst the lack of opportunities. Deficiencies in vital areas such as health, housing, education and social responsibility, as well as high rates of violence and alcoholism are a portrait of the Japeri municipality. There, work with legal guarantees is considered a luxury and most families live on income from odd jobs or from working as street vendors on the train that connects the region to the centre of the state’s capital.
But for 120 boys and girls this reality has been transformed thanks to the AGPJ and the Golf School, through which around 400 children have already passed. At the very least, it is unusual to lead a sport that is considered elitist to this scenario of poverty and lack of public policy. The fact is that the experience has produced good results – on and off the course. In addition to a visible improvement in school performance, Japeri Golf students are some of the best amateur golfers in the country and there is an extensive waiting list for children and young people who want to transform the reality of their lives.