Three years ago, when Chantelle De Abreu was volunteering at a football academy for underprivileged youth, she discovered that the kids who excelled in the sport didn’t focus much on their studies.
“They felt that they had to choose between sport and education,” says De Abreu. “I felt this was an injustice; everyone has a right to education.” When the academy closed down, the then 26-year-old clinical psychologist intern took matters into her own hands.
She raised the funds for eight of the children to attend a top boarding school, where they could focus on sports and education. Today De Abreu’s organisation, Educating Athletes, supports the education of 18 young sports talents, including soccer players, cricketers and golfers.
But the support doesn’t stop at school fees.
De Abreu also provides weekly tutoring and counselling, and monthly mental skills development sessions for the learners. Twice a year, she and her charges run sports clinics for underprivileged children, and spend time visiting hospitals, so that they, too, can give back to the community.
Unsurprisingly, De Abreu was named one of the Queen’s Young Leaders for 2017. “It’s hard work, but I feel really hopeful when I see hope and joy in the kids’ eyes. I feel so inspired by them.”
|I’m going to fail sometimes, but it’s what I do with it afterwards that’s important.|