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University Backing Work of Child Protection Campaign at Pre-World Cup Football Conference

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A team of six University of Worcester lecturers and students will present at an international football development course in Brazil next week, where they will also be publicising the work of a charity determined to eradicate the exploitation of children.

The ‘It’s A Penalty’ campaign, led by three international charities - the UK-based Happy Child International, the A21 campaign and the Jubilee Campaign - is aiming to raise awareness of the issue among football fans travelling to the forthcoming World Cup.

UNICEF estimates that over 250,000 children are involved in the child sex trade in Brazil, and it is feared that girls as young as eleven will be groomed for prostitution and offered to football fans and tourists during this summer’s tournament.

A host of high profile football figures, including former England striker Alan Shearer; veteran midfielder Frank Lampard; and Brazilian stars Oscar and Ramires; have already thrown their weight behind the campaign, and the Worcester delegation will be helping to spread the message at the annual Brazil/UK Football Development course in Sao Paulo next week.

The campaign is being supported by both the University of Worcester – in the form of the Safeguarding Group and the Students’ Union – and the University of Sao Paulo, the two institutions which work in partnership to deliver the annual course.

Glyn Harding, Principal Lecturer in Sports Coaching Science and a key figure in the development of the course, explains: “We have a great working relationship with the University of Sao Paulo, and this challenging issue of safeguarding children is one which students, coaches and teachers in the UK and Brazil need to address.

“Football can play a big role in helping to protect the children at risk, and we are very happy to support the remarkable work that Happy Child International carry out on behalf of the young people of Brazil.

“The delegates attending the course will be the future PE teachers and coaches across Brazil, so it’s vital that we help further raise awareness of child sexual exploitation now and in the future, as a legacy of the 2014 World Cup.”

The course, which is now in its seventh year, brings together the skills and ideas of top coaches from the UK and Brazil, offering an insight into the differing perspectives on coaching, player development and talent identification.

For more information on the It’s A Penalty campaign, visit www.itsapenalty.com