Pele and his new challenge
He first visited New York 32 years ago to inspire American kids to play football, or soccer, as it is known in the USA. On 11 July 2007 he returned to the Big Apple with another inspiring mission: to help young people and their families transform their love of soccer into a love of reading.
Pele, hailed by all as the greatest footballer in history and lauded as the athlete of the 20’1′ century, took centre stage at the NASDAQ MarketSite to advocate the Read Futbol Mundial literacy campaign, an advocacy programme developed and championed by American soccer magazine Futbol Mundial. It was a red-letter day for Pele, who earlier in the morning had opened the day’s trading on the NASDAQ exchange, caused traffic jams in Times Square when he stepped outside for photos and attracted throngs of fans, young and old, as he signed autographs on his departure.
For the now 66-year-old Brazilian legend, the signature moment of the day came when he spoke to hundreds of journalists, education professionals and guests about his new passion. “Everyone loves football in their country; but for each generation this love passes quickly and can change. But when you work with kids, when you give them an education, that never passes. It is forever. Education is the most important thing you can give to kids.”
“To be in this project is the biggest challenge of my life,” said a deeply moved O Rei. “To score 1,000 goals, to win 3 World Cups … this reading campaign is much more than that because it is something for life. It is my mission … it starts now.”