Meet the Match

Brazilian Businesswoman Advocates for Sport and Social Change

Daniela Castro grew up playing sports in a French boarding school in São Paulo, Brazil. She loved team sports especially and had a great passion for basketball and volleyball. Unfortunately, Daniela wasn’t very tall and her teachers discouraged her from continuing because of her height. This was very frustrating for her. “I loved sport. It was important to me. But I wasn’t tall enough. My professor hid me away. This is the problem in Brazil. Our society doesn’t value sport as a tool for development. Sport is only for the elite. Our children are missing opportunities to learn life lessons because it’s all about the medals.”

Daniela understood at an early age the societal inequities that existed, not just in sport, but within her community. Her passion for sport was superseded only by her nationalism and desire to positively influence change in Brazil. “Since I was little, I wanted to do something for my country. From a very early age, I knew I wanted to work for human rights. This is what defines me.”

Daniela pursued a bachelor’s degree in law and a master’s in economics and public policy. For more than ten years, Daniela worked with an NGO teaching individuals living in poverty how to improve their situation through community development and human rights campaigns. Now Daniela is the manager of a sports organization, Athletes for Citizenship, which combines her love of sports with her passion for social issues. Athletes for Citizenship is comprised of 60 former athletes who promote legislative changes around sport for development issues as directed by the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.

“In Brazil, we don’t have a culture of advocacy organizations. It’s very different from the U.S. We don’t have grassroots sports. We don’t have people advocating for better public policies. But there is great political power and respect for elite athletes in our society. With the upcoming World Cup, it’s important for our organization of elite athletes to take advantage and create awareness about sport as a tool for development. We not only want to mobilize the cities, but the people, the park systems, and the teachers to explain to them how sports can improve education, recreation, and development.”

With Brazil playing host to the World Cup and Olympics, Daniela has an incredible platform to raise awareness about social issues affecting girls and women in Brazil. Using the celebrity status of former Olympians and elite athletes, Daniela’s organization is in the process of launching a national campaign. With guidance and support from Olympic sponsor P&G and marketing extraordinaire Julie Eddleman, we believe Daniela and her team will have the knowledge and resources they need to make her human rights campaign very successful.

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