After 20 years of existence, Instituto Reação, created by former judoka Flávio Canto and which gives judo classes to young people from low-income communities, opens its first headquarters in São Paulo, in the Freguesia do Ó region. The launch will be this Saturday (28), international judo day.
Today there are around 4,500 students in five states served by the program. The greatest exponent of the project is judoka Rafaela Silva, Olympic champion at the Rio Olympics in 2016, born in the Cidade de Deus favela, in Rio de Janeiro, and who today defends Flamengo.
According to Flávio Canto, Reação seeks to serve as a gateway for young people to have the opportunity to develop not only in sport, but also in studies and professionally.
“When we started Reação teaching classes in Rocinha [favela no Rio de Janeiro]I was impressed by the feeling of belonging and the transformation caused in those kids’ lives”, says the former athlete.
In addition to offering judo and jiu-jitsu classes, the project offers tutoring and helps students obtain scholarships and job openings through partner companies.
Reação’s financing is mainly through donations via the Sports Incentive Law, which offers companies a IR (Income Tax) deduction for amounts spent donating to sports projects.
Bronze medalist at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, Canto states that, when the project began, he understood that it was not necessary to expand operations beyond Rio de Janeiro, given the lack of opportunities for the city’s young people.
When he became aware of projects run by other judokas spread across Brazil that could mutually strengthen each other with Reação, he realized the opportunity there was in expanding borders.
At the Belo Horizonte hub, the program’s partner is Luciano Corrêa, world champion in 2007. In Cuiabá, it is led by David Moura, who was champion at the 2015 Pan-American Games in Toronto. In Tibau do Sul, in Rio Grande do Norte, Reação is under the care of Geraldo Bernardes, who was coach of Flávio Canto and Rafaela Silva and is also one of the project’s creators.
The arrival in São Paulo took place through a partnership with the Instituto Roldão, led by volunteers Diogo Castilho and Diuly Stival and which, since 2017, has also been offering judo and IT classes and tutoring for young people in the region. Currently there are around 150 students served. The number should more than double with Reação, which joins a group of around ten professionals made up of coaches, social workers and psychologists.
Children aged 3 to 4 and other interested parties can register directly at the project headquarters or via the website to participate. Given the size of the expected demand, Canto predicts that it will be necessary to wait in a queue until the call to start participating in classes. There is no age limit. There are students up to 50 years old participating in the project. “Payment is the seriousness and commitment of the students.”
Pan American medal hopes
Reação also has a high-performance group of athletes with the potential to stand out in national and international competitions. Around 250 fighters make up the group. Two of them — Samanta Soares and Gabriel Falcão — were called up to the Brazilian team to compete in the Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile.
Known during his time as an athlete for his above-average ability in ground fighting, Canto says he seeks to provide his students with a complete training repertoire, so that they are prepared to stand out in all the tournaments they compete in. Complementary jiu-jitsu classes contribute to the training of competitive fighters in stand-up and ground fighting, says the former judoka.
More than training future champions, Canto points out that Reação’s great merit is to allow integration between groups of people who normally would not have crossed paths if it were not for judo. “We want to form black belts on and off the mats.”