Neymar's Charity Home Game
I have a great job. I have the privilege to work with charities around the world that help to make a difference where it's needed the most. PokerStars gives back to communities because it believes it's the right thing to do, not for a pat on the back: it's simply part of who we are as an organisation. In 2013, we created Helping Hands, our corporate giving programme, to bring all the great stuff we do together under one umbrella. (You can see some of the long history of our giving here.)
So when we were invited to work alongside Team PokerStars Sportstar Neymar to help raise money for the Neymar Jr Institute, an education and sporting complex built for underprivileged children, it felt natural that Helping Hands should support it. And I'm glad we did.
Last month, we took a trip to Sao Paulo, the home of Neymar and also the home of the Brazilian Series of Poker (BSOP) to host a charity poker event for Neymar. He invited us to take a trip to his institute to see the good work it does, which will be even more good work with the $100,000 that Neymar's Charity Home Game raised.
An oasis in the middle of a deprived area of Sao Paulo near where Neymar grew up, the Neymar Jr Institute opened in 2014 and sees more than 2,000 children through its doors every week.
Funded entirely by the Brazilian football star (with some help from sponsors and charity poker tournaments...) and built on derelict ground where he used to play football, the institute is an incredible place. It's an educational haven where children are encouraged to be the best they can be. Or, in the words of Joel , the director of operations who showed us around, they want to bring out the Neymar in everyone.
Whether they are an artist, a swimmer, a writer or a footballer, children are given a chance to be something. There are few greater gifts that can be granted. The institute has created a place that allows children the chance to be inspired, nurtured and valued, and hopefully it will be able to continue that for generations to come.
Sue Hammett is the Head of Corporate Giving for PokerStars.