Laureus Ambassador and leading football coach André Villas-Boas has become patron of the APPACDM project in his home city of Porto to help children and adults with intellectual disabilities.
André, who is now manager of Zenit St Petersburg and has also coached English clubs Chelsea and Tottenham, achieved great success with FC Porto, winning the Europa League and the Portuguese Primeira Liga.
After the announcement that he was to become Patron, he showed some of the participants from the project around FC Porto’s Estádio do Dragão.
André Villas-Boas said: “When I was working at FC Porto, I used to live near the APPACDM project. One day I went in to find out what was going on. I was overwhelmed with what I saw and the love and care which the staff gave to the people who needed it so much.
“Sometimes these are the people in society who are the ones we need to help most, but Government support is not always enough. I was determined to do what I could to help.
“I believe the work I do with the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation is important and can help to change people’s lives and that has encouraged me to take on more responsibility by becoming Patron of APPACDM and doing what I can to support the programme.”
The project APPACDM, which stands for Association of Portuguese Parents and Friends of Mentally Disabled Citizens, works with more than 300 participants, of whom 52 are residents and the remainder receive day care support. The project helps to integrate its participants into society and has arrangements with local companies who offer work opportunities.
APPACDM Board Member Teresa Guimarães said: “We are so delighted that André has agreed to become our Patron. He has been a great supporter and we look forward to working with him. Our users see him on television and know him. When he comes to the project they are so excited to see him.
“We provide a wide range of support for our users and sport plays an important part in this. We use swimming, basketball, football, of course, so I am sure we will be asking Andre to help us with that, and horse riding. For children with intellectual disabilities, the connection they get with a horse is very special. They are gentle creatures and there is a real bonding.”
André Villas-Boas added: “APPACDM Porto and myself are determined to raise awareness and hopefully that will translate into further donations that would be a great stepping stone to fund the new ideas that the institution has in mind for their users.”