Road to Curitiba: Craig and Michael’s story

If you have been following Lionsraw on social media recently, you will probably have seen @projectcuritiba retweeted and shared a number of times. This is the story of Craig Robson and Michael Gardner, who have been on a fundraising mission before they head out to Curitiba to work with Lionsraw for 12 months. Craig tells us their tale. 


Our road to Brazil started in Poland. Michael and I met when we were part of the StreetGames team, who joined Lionsraw on the Poland Legacy Tour back in 2012.

We worked together to deliver coaching sessions in a youth detention centre and schools. It was a great experience for us as we developed as sports coaches, but also sampled the atmosphere of a host city during a major sporting event. Since that tour we agreed to volunteer for one year in Curitiba with Lionsraw to help develop projects that more volunteers would support with in June 2014.

2014 will see Michael move away from the Hat Trick Project and me leave Sport North Tyneside, but this opportunity was something that can provide invaluable experience. We could never have expected what would happen in our quest to raise the money necessary to support us to deliver the ideas we had.

We discussed many ways to raise money and for our first event we decided to climb Ben Nevis in February. It was only the biggest mountain in the British Isles, but we had to start positive and attempt something that we thought would be challenging enough to get people to sponsor. In the weeks leading up to the climb we realised we might have set ourselves up for a disaster as the weather was predicted to be terrible and we were leading a team of our friends so we didn’t want to put them at risk. Thankfully we managed to complete the challenge without incident and started our fundraising brilliantly.

We then came up with the idea of a Brazil Day. Through our contacts we were able to engage schools into hosting a day filled with Brazilian flavour like futsal, music, carnival and for them to meet Brazilian students from our friends at International House Newcastle. They have been absolutely superb and we have delivered 5 days to schools in Newcastle.

The aim of the day is to share Brazilian culture, raise funds for our project, but create a legacy beyond 2014 by making links between these schools and those in Curitiba. There is already some progress here as due to the success of these days, luckily our friend is brilliant at making video’s so we have captured great moments which you can see on our YouTube channel, the city council of Curitiba have been in touch and would like us to support them with work in schools. We have received messages from the mayor, Gustavo Fruet, who is excited to welcome us to his city and many people in the city all wanting to support us. They even sent us the state flag for Curitiba which has been all over the world. It has been overwhelming, but very much appreciated.

We have also featured in Terra which is an online magazine in Brazil and through this made an appearance on “Jornal da Band” which is a national TV programme in Brazil. Through International House we have made some great friends who could not believe that they had seen us on their TV screen and proudly told their family that they had met us in Newcastle and what we would be doing.

It is quite mind blowing to think that in Brazil millions of people who have seen two lads from Newcastle. The common interest after the protests during the Confederations Cup is we have a similar goal to change Brazil.


We want to go to Brazil and create opportunities to develop new projects that support disadvantaged communities. We want to go to Brazil to bring the World Cup to people who would not have the opportunity to be involved with it normally. Basically, we want to make a difference.

We would struggle to do what we have done so far this year without the support of our friends and there are too many too mention. Whether that was entering a team into our 5 a side football tournament, supporting us by volunteering at a Brazil Day, teaching us Portuguese, contacting us after reading about our story, sponsoring us for completing personal challenges, including the Great North Run, or sharing our social media. It is something which drives us to continue what we do. If you are interested in following us you can like us at or send us a tweet @ProjectCuritiba.

2014 is sure to be a life changing experience not only for ourselves, but more importantly the communities we hope to serve.

Thank you
Project Curitiba (Craig and Michael)

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