Johan Cruyff Foundation, Pelé Foundation and UEFA Foundation for Children collaborate to create a safe place to play in Santos.

The global initiative giving packaging a new purpose brings a new pitch to IztapalapaThis new facility is the 300th Cruyff Court worldwide and will havea huge impact on a vulnerable community.

The Johan Cruyff Foundation has just opened the Cruyff Court Pelé in Santos (São Paulo, Brazil) in a touching ceremony that paid tribute to two footballing legends. This new facility, the 300th Cruyff Court worldwide, marks a milestone for the charity and is set to have a significant impact in Dique da Vila Gilda, one of the city’s most socially vulnerable neighborhoods. Susila Cruyff, the daughter of Johan Cruyff and board member of the Cruyff Foundation, attended the opening, which was a festive and enthusiastic celebration of the favela that saw local kids take part in a football match.

Santos, home to Santos FC – one of Brazil’s most storied clubs, where Pelé and other greats of the game plied their trade – was chosen as the setting for the latest Cruyff Court. The result of a collaboration between the Cruyff Foundation, the UEFA Foundation for Children and the Pelé Foundation, the new facility will cater to children and young people from local neighborhoods who are directly affected by the lack of socio-educational activities in the favela, which is the largest stilt community in Latin America.

Susila Cruyff spoke about how the Cruyff Court Pelé will benefit kids and youngsters for whom sport is not a guaranteed part of life: “My father always had a special connection with Pelé, and it’s either through luck or coincidence that we’re here opening the 300th Cruyff Court in their names. Both came from a similar background, they started playing on the streets, they were self-made footballers and still live on in people’s memories as legends. They can be a great inspiration for this area. We believe this court could be a life-changing experience for these kids and something positive for the community.”

Joe Fraga, Pele’s agent and a representative of the Pelé Foundation, said: “The opportunities the Cruyff Court Pelé will bring to this community, and more specifically the children of Santos, will continue to cement the amazing legacy of two of the greatest players in history. The bond between Johan and Edson [Pelé] is as strong as ever with this 300th court. The Pelé Foundation is honored to partner with the Cruyff Foundation on this very special and inspiring project.”

Urs Kluser, General Secretary of the UEFA Foundation for Children, said: “The UEFA Foundation for Children is very proud to support the Johan Cruyff Foundation with the opening of its 300th pitch. Like the previous ones [this is the fifth supported by the UEFA Foundation], the pitch is a great support for the community and the children who will have a safe place to play. At the same time, this pitch is special, not only because it is the 300th court, but also because it will represent the names of two legends in Cruyff and Pelé.”

Both of these iconic players learned all about the game on the streets, which will serve as a huge inspiration to local children who use the facility in the future. Cruyff believed in the considerable power of sport and its influence on the development of children and young people. Indeed, those beliefs are at the heart of his foundation, an organisation that is committed to creating spaces for children from all over the world to develop physically, mentally, and socially, as it builds alliances with like-minded local partners.

A Cruyff Court is a social platform that uses sport and Johan Cruyff’s 14 rules to provide children and young people with integral development, inclusion, and citizenship training and an opportunity to broaden their prospects for a balanced socio-affective future, based on respectful relationships developed in a safe environment.


About this project

The Cruyff Foundation runs projects in more than 20 countries worldwide. The Cruyff Court Pelé marks the milestone 300th Cruyff Court in the world and the fourth in Brazil. In this particular project, 14 local coaches received training to become Cruyffian coaches during a two-day course held on 6/7 December that taught them all about Johan Cruyff’s philosophy, including the 14 rules that they can use to motivate the kids.

This project sees the Cruyff Foundation partner with the Instituto Plataforma Brasil (IPB), a non-profit civil society organisation that encourages young people to take on leading roles in transforming the communities where they live. “It is a dream come true to be able to give the community this space to enjoy, to play in, and to forget for a moment all the challenges of daily life. To offer the best possible facility to those who need it most provokes a movement of change that has the Cruyff Court as a starting point and expands from there on. That way, it is possible to contribute to the personal development of the kids of the community and a more just society. That is wonderful!” said Joëlke Offringa, IPB president.

The Johan Cruyff Foundation also linked up with the Instituto Arte no Dique, which is also a not-for-profit civil society institution that has been carrying out major sociocultural work with the population of Dique da Vila Gilda since 2002. Other local partners are COHAB Santista, the Vopak We Connect Foundation, and local companies Signify, AkzoNobel, and Parque Balneário Hotel Santos.