Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

World Cup 2014: Football and Activism Fueled By Faith

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Bread for the World's World Cup series will use the occasion of the Cup to focus on the great advances many of the participating countries and players have made in fighting hunger and poverty. Each day, until the end of the tournament, we will highlight a country, or an individual player, that is making a difference.

Saturday, July 12: Netherlands v. Brazil

David_Luiz_ConfedCup2013Champions17The playoff game for third place between Brazil and the Netherlands will be the last battle for both teams before returning home as contenders in the World Cup. Evenly matched at three wins and five draws, the result of this match is a coin toss. But with the support of the fans, it is no doubt that the athletes will still give their all to win. Even as the stadium lights go out and the fans, coaches, and other teams return home, several athletes will continue working on the next big fight against hunger and poverty in their home nations.

Brazil’s favorite defender, David Luiz, is no stranger to hunger as it almost took his football dreams away from him. Although it is hard to believe now, as a child Luiz was considered too small to be a football player. After being picked up by the Sao Paulo Football Club at 9 years old, he was dropped at 14 because his malnourished body was not growing. Despite this rejection, Luiz’s determination and faith propelled him to leave home for north-east Brazil to try to play for Vitória.

“My family has always been religious,” Luiz explained in an interview with FourFourTwo Magazine. “My glory is all His. I have all my blessings because He has given them. He guides our hearts and without Him I wouldn’t have left poverty nor got all the good things I have today.”

Luiz is not afraid to use his football stardom to speak out about his faith and to make a difference. In April, Luiz became the Brazilian Goodwill Ambassador for UNAIDS. Reaching out to young people, he hopes to stop discrimination and raise awareness.

“My faith in Jesus gives me strength to keep on going out onto the field and to do my best," said Luiz told BBC. “But I also want to inspire others — that is what God inspires me to do.”

Luiz’s faith acts as a driving force behind his capabilities on and off the field. Football stars like Luiz who give back to their communities also encourage their team mates and fans to do the same. The work of these athletes to bring attention to the struggles and achievements taken toward a hunger-free society continues their passion beyond sport. While many countries still have a long way to go in ending hunger, they are making a great impact through faith and the contributions of advocates like David Luiz.

Photo: David Luiz. (Tânia Rêgo via Wikimedia Commons)


« Jannah's Story: 'I Survived A Refugee Camp' World Cup 2014: Football that Empowers Girls »


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