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Brazil's Vinicius Junior Stimulates Young Brazilian Minds Using Football App

by Web Desk

Virtual avatar inspired by star forward cheers on every correct answer

In football-crazy Brazil, pupils in a primary school are encouraged to go after academic
greatness in classrooms resembling soccer pitches. This interesting simulation comes
with a virtual avatar inspired by star forward Vinicus Junior cheering on every correct
answer. The children are perched atop football-patterned cushions on classroom floors
of artificial grass and they learn on tablets and smartphones using an app created by
the Vini Jr Institute that was started by the Real Madrid athlete. It is the star player’s
innovative and fun approach to improve public education in disadvantaged communities
in his country.
"I learn better when I use the app, it's easier, it looks like a game," said 11-year-old Ana
Clara da Silva in Sao Goncalo, Vinicius's birthplace on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro.
Da Silva attends the Visconde de Sepetiba municipal school that is one of ten in four
Brazilian states to have received educational aid from the Vini Jr institute.
Some 4,500 students and 500 teachers have already benefited from the project that
was launched in 2021. By the end of this year, it hopes to touch 30 schools.
There is no intention to replace human teachers and the app has been designed solely
as an aid that makes learning fun and interesting.
Each pupil has a personal account where their progress is logged as they answer
questions that are presented in a fun, football-inspired way on several subjects including
mathematics, Portuguese and science. In line with typical gaming format, each school
year is presented as a "Season" and each subject as a "Match," while the avatar
"Vinizinho Jr" celebrates each correct answer as if it were a goal.
The power of football
"We use the power of football, its playful character to inspire the kids to learn”, said Vini
Jr Institute's executive manager Victor Oliveira to AFP.
"Everything we learn, we put into practice on the app. It helps us learn because we are
connected to our phones, but not disconnected from our studies," said another pre-teen
user of the app, 11-year-old Yuri Rodrigues.
The institute was initially funded exclusively by Vinicius but now has other sponsors as
well. It also aims to tackle the scourge of racism in a country where more than half the
population is of black or of mixed race. It has launched an anti-racism training manual
and has provided instruction on the subject to about 80 teachers over the past year.
Racism is a subject that is close- to- the- heart of the Brazilian attacker, who has himself
suffered multiple incidents of discrimination in Spain.
"He is very important to all of us," stated 11-year-old Ana Clara. "I'm glad he never gives
up. And because his voice reaches a wide audience, he can fight for us," she added.

In October, Vinicius received the Socrates Prize for his charitable work at the Ballon
d'Or annual football awards.
Last month, the 23-year-old was appointed UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, only the
second Brazilian footballer to receive the honor after the great Pele.

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