Dr. Ana Palla-Kane is a faculty member in the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Maryland. Dr. Palla-Kane works with teachers in the development of strategies to make physical activity programs accessible to individuals with disabilities.
Through Partners’ Sport for Community program, she served as mentor to Dr. Priscila Lopes, an emerging leader in Brazil who works at the Federal University of the Jequitinhonha and Mucuri Valleys.
Arriving in Diamantina, Brazil, was an adventure. The historic city in the state of Minas Gerais is about four and half hours by car from the state capital of Belo Horizonte. Roads with beautiful views and landscapes took us to the heart of Brazilian history, where a gorgeous June sunset greeted us.
When the children of the community of Tiracancha, resting high in the Andes Mountains in Cusco, Peru, received 50 indestructible One World Futbols, they rejoiced at the fact that they will never have to scavenge for another soccer ball again. Games at the school were often cut short when makeshift soccer balls fell flat, and a pump to re-inflate them was a foreign concept.
As executive director of the U.S. Association of Blind Athletes (USABA), Mark Lucas has met scores of people involved in sports—he’s even met Brazilians. “The Brazilian people are so incredibly friendly and insanely passionate about their soccer, I mean football,” he joked.