A Goal to Change Children's Lives

by Gerry Lynch last modified 23 Apr, 2014 12:55 PM

Dorset clergyman joins group of football fans riding high to change the lives of kids in Brazil's slums.

A Goal to Change Children's Lives

Dorset clergyman and former Wareham Rector Andy Bowerman leads a pack of cyclists aiming to change lives through football.

As one of the most exciting English Premiership seasons in recent times draws to a close, one group of fans is setting out to score a different goal: changing the lives of the poorest children in the host country of this year’s Would Cup host, soccer mad Brazil.

Five football fans are currently embarking on a sponsored cycle ride around the home grounds of all 20 English Premiership clubs. “It’s a frightening thought, 1000 miles in 12 days will push me right to the edge”, says Jon Burns, CEO of the Lionsraw movement, “but when I think of the education and football centre we will be building for the kids in a Brazilian favela – we have to do all we can.”

Lionsraw is a movement that mobilises passionate football fans who believe they can make a difference in the lives of others, encouraging them to volunteer time or money to local community projects, or by joining a ‘Legacy Tour’ after a major international tournament.

One of the riders is Dorset resident and former Rector of Wareham, Andy Bowerman, who is Lionsraw’s International Development Officer. Andy is also club chaplain at Southampton FC, where the ride will end on Saturday 26 April before the game with Everton. Andy gave the South Coast club generous thanks for backing the project. “The players and staff have been very supportive”, said Andy, “with tips from the physio and incredibly generous sponsorship from the first team squad. We are excited to be finishing at their stadium.”

Lionsraw was conceived by its CEO Jon Burns at a match in Lisbon’s famous Stadium of Light during the 2004 European Championships. Jon wondered how many of the 60,000 fans present shared a passion for changing lives as a well as for football.

As well as supporting local projects in communities across the UK, Lionsraw’s ‘Legacy Tours’ help fans make a difference to host countries of major tournaments. These ran during the 2010 World Cup South Africa in 2012 European Championships in Poland. This year, around 200 football fans will travel to Curitiba, Brazil during the World Cup in June.

Lionsraw is working with a number of local partners to deliver projects that will leave a legacy long after the World Cup has finished. Funds raised from TourDePrem will go towards the construction of a new football centre in conjunction Lionsraw’s partners Futebol de Rua, a Brazilian organisation with shared values and a shared love of the beautiful game.

Learn more about the Tour de Prem ride at www.tourdeprem.com and about Lionsraw at www.lionsraw.org. The Lionsraw Facebook page is regularly updated with photos from the trip.

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