Forces in Sport Program: Social Development on the Borders of Brazil


Throughout its history, the Brazilian Armed Forces have materialized the presence of the State on its borders, guaranteeing not only national security and defense, but also social development in the communities where they are present. In this sense, this article shows the opportunities offered by the Forces in Sports Program (PROFESP) for social development on the borders of Brazil, as it is a social program carried out in the barracks of the Armed Forces that benefits young people in a situation of social vulnerability. PROFESP is a social action that benefits more than 30,000 Brazilians a year, improving their self-esteem, their sense of belonging, their values, their physical and mental health, as well as giving them hope for a better future.

The development of this article is based on qualitative methodology, based on information from bibliographic and documentary sources, as well as videos and interviews available on the internet, in addition to the author’s experience, having worked directly with the mentioned program.

Keywords: PROFESP, border, social development, opportunities, social vulnerability.


The challenges for national development on the borders of Brazil are a recurring theme both in the media and in debates and in the academic field. Various investigations indicate that these challenges are due to socioeconomic problems derived from the absence of the State, cross-border crimes and the demographic gap.[1] However, they also report on the solutions provided by education, through social programs and public policies, aimed mainly at young people, in a joint effort between the Government and society.[2] With respect to education, the researchers argue that this takes place in diverse spaces, not limited only to the school environment, since in the Brazilian territory there are multiple socioeconomic realities, each with its specific context. For this reason, specific educational actions -for a specific purpose- are developed in communities, organizations and other spaces other than those of the formal school framework.[3]

In this context, the land border areas of Brazil are important not only because of their strategic role in the defense of the national territory, but also because of the role they play in the development of the country, which requires a strong presence of the Armed Forces in these border areas, which -in many cases- materialize the only presence of the State, providing opportunities for government actions to be taken for the benefit of these populations.[4] In this sense, this article describes the benefits provided by the Forces in Sports Program (PROFESP) as a socio-educational action implemented by the Brazilian Armed Forces that highlights sports education as an opportunity for development, aimed at children and adolescents in situation of social vulnerability. The project is an initiative of the Federal Government that involves the military and other sectors to generate ethical and moral values ​​in these young people.

The social reality in the Brazilian borders

Brazil’s land border has an extension of 16,886 kilometers, with a 150-kilometer wide band defined by law, which encompasses 11 federative units, 586 municipalities, 2 operational state areas and includes almost 12 million inhabitants. This entire region represents 27% of the national territory, with 5.6% of the Brazilian population living in it. However, in this border area there is evidence of a lack of public policies in health, education and other areas, making this population vulnerable to the attractions offered by transnational illicit activities, including rapid economic gains and social advancement.[5]

Regarding the social vulnerability index presented by the Applied Economic Research Institute (IPEA)[6], which measures social inequality in Brazil, the country presents an average vulnerability (0.3262). However, there is a great regional asymmetry that is evident in the southern arc of the Brazilian border, a region with the worst social vulnerability index (21.1%). This index takes into account, among others, the percentage of children who do not attend school (by age group), the illiteracy rate, as well as the percentage of young people who do not study, do not work and are vulnerable to poverty. In this sense, the inhabitants of that region still live facing great needs, the same that is evidenced in basic sanitation, education and family income, so it can be affirmed that in this region public policies continue to be inefficient.

For example, Uruguaiana is a municipality located on the southermost border of Brazil, with social problems that include drug, arms, and ammunition trafficking, as well as smuggling, embezzlement (permeability of the border), cattle hunting, exploitation child sex and currency evasion, among others.[7] This situation reveals the need for continuous public social policies that promote education, energize the economy and promote development. The Uruguaiana social panorama reveals that the monthly income of formal workers is 2.2 minimum wages. However, the proportion of unemployed is 82.6%. Likewise, the percentage of people with a monthly income of up to half the minimum wage is 35.6% and the Human Development Index (HDI) is 0.744. These figures show great social inequality with regard to the concentration of income and people with formal jobs, with the schooling rate among children aged 6 to 14 being 97.6%. [8]

In its World Sports Manifesto, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) affirmed that education through sports strengthens and preserves ethical, moral, justice, solidarity and fraternity values. It is through educational sport that elementary and secondary school children and adolescents develop their body, mind, and behavioral attitudes. Consequently, sports education may be the most attractive solution for young people in situations of social vulnerability, based on a public policy aimed at promoting social development, on a solid and continuous basis.[9]

In the globalized and technologically connected world, the new demands and realities impose new methodologies and multiple spaces to provide education, in addition to the traditional and institutional one. Specifically in relation to the border, the Armed Forces – and in particular the Brazilian Army – have been collaborating for a long time for the social development of that region of the country, particularly in the area of ​​education.[10] In this area, public policies are essential to improve the living conditions of the neediest populations. Some of these policies directly involve the Armed Forces. With this in mind, the Brazilian government implemented PROFESP as a socio-educational action aimed at social development to benefit young people in situations of social vulnerability.[11]

Forces in Sport Program

PROFESP is a social program of the Federal Government implemented in 2003 with the purpose of promoting the appreciation of the person, reducing social risks and strengthening citizenship, inclusion and social integration of the young people benefited by the program. This is done through access to sports and healthy physical activities, and other socially inclusive actions.[12] PROFESP is developed by the Ministry of Defense in collaboration with the Ministry of Citizenship, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Women, Family and Human Rights. In this regard, the Ministry of Defense is the one who conducts the program globally, based on the coordination, orientation, planning, management and execution of its own resources and those received from other ministries. The implementation of the program is the responsibility of the Navy, Army and Air Force.[13]

On the one hand, the Ministry of Citizenship provides specific support to the program through its secretariats. For example, the Special Secretariat for Sports is in charge of providing the necessary resources for sports equipment, uniforms and the hiring and payment of teachers and monitors, in addition to pedagogical training. Likewise, the feeding of minors is in charge of the Special Secretariat for Social Development, which also allows the inclusion of students in the National Program of Incentive to Volunteering.[14] On the other hand, within the scope of the Ministry of Education, the Secretariat of Basic Education is in charge of the integration and articulation of public policies directed to basic education, oriented to basic and secondary education, as applicable to the program. Likewise, the Secretariat for Specialized Education Modalities does the same for special, bilingual, bilingual education for the deaf and blind, as well as those with hearing disabilities, from a sociocultural perspective, as appropriate to the Program.[15]

The Ministry of Women, Family and Human Rights also has a wide range of participation in PROFESP. Its National Youth Secretariat contributes to the maintenance of the sports infrastructure, access to learning in specialized institutions, insertion in the labor market and social inclusion. The National Secretariat for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities does the same with the students of the program who have disabilities. In addition, the National Secretariat for the Rights of Children and Adolescents is responsible for the integration and articulation of public policies directed at children and adolescents, as applicable to the program.[16] For its part, the Ministry of Tourism has an alliance with PROFESP through the Special Secretariat for Culture, contributing to actions related to cultural activities provided for in the program’s work plans. In addition to these federal agencies, there are various entities that support the program, such as the archdiocese, integrated business-school centers, banking foundations, Olympic and Paralympic committees, universities, APAE, Pestalozzi, among others.[17]

In the Armed Forces, PROFESP activities are carried out within military organizations, in the so-called Sports Activity Nuclei (NAE, in Portuguese). They also have the support of the community and the private sector at the federal, state and municipal levels. All the infrastructure and support necessary for the development of program activities are available in the barracks that receive these young people.[18] In this regard, Graphic 1 shows the responsibilities of the Ministries involved in PROFESP.

Graphic 1. Responsibilities of the involved Ministries. Own elaboration.

The transport of students between the school and the barracks, round trip, follows two models. The first is the private one, when military organizations carry out the bidding process for the provision of services by transport companies; While the second is the public, when the service is provided by the education departments of the states or municipalities, the latter being the most common since the municipalities themselves seek this involvement for the benefit of public school students.[19]

Regarding the financial resources that enable PROFESP to function, these are centralized by the Ministry of Defense and transferred to the Armed Institutions, who in turn transfer it to the Units whose barracks participate in this program to carry out the bidding process. contracting of the services and acquisition of material. In this way, there is an injection of resources into the economy where these barracks are located, which generates employment and income, as well as contributing to local development. In this regard, the contracting of services covers all types of improvement of sports infrastructures and others that support students in their activities, such as maintenance, adaptation, rehabilitation and construction of sports courts, gyms, swimming pools, bathrooms, accommodation, meeting rooms. games, kitchens and dining rooms, as well as the installation of electrical and electronic equipment, the installation and maintenance of electrical and computer networks, the maintenance of buildings, among others. All this in order to offer the best and safest environment where children and adolescents spend a whole morning or afternoon of activities. Likewise, the acquisition of the equipment includes all the required sports articles (balls, athletic equipment, swimming equipment, clothing and individual equipment) according to the modalities developed in the barracks.

Likewise, military organizations receive financial resources for the purchase of food that allows them to offer healthy and quality meals so that each student participating in the program has two meals: reinforced breakfast and lunch (for students on the morning shift), as well as lunch. and reinforced snack (for students on the afternoon shift), within the schedule of activities in the barracks. Meals provide the necessary nutrients to cover the effort that is made during sports activities and teaching, contributing to the integral development of students.

Although the current pandemic has caused the temporary suspension of program activities [20], the resources assigned to PROFESP within the Brazilian Army for the year 2020 totaled 11.2 million Reais (approximately US $ 2 million). The allocation of these resources has allowed the implementation of the program in 123 cities of all the states of the Federation and the Federal District, involving around 202 Military Organizations of the three Forces, with benefits for more than 29,500 children, adolescents and youth. , including members of indigenous communities within the Brazilian Amazon.[21] It is important to highlight that the PROFESP is a branch, within the Armed Forces, of another initiative called “Program According to Time” that belongs to the Ministry of Citizenship and that aims to democratize access to the practice and culture of educational sports, promoting the integral development of the body and mind of the young beneficiaries. In this sense, PROFESP follows these goals to promote the social development of children and young people in situations of social vulnerability in the communities that need it most.[22]

Similarly, PROFESP activities are carried out after school and inside the barracks, using the various infrastructures. In addition, young people receive medical and dental care, counting on free life and health insurance.[23] The program is aimed at children and adolescents between 6 and 18 years of age, of both sexes, as long as they are socially vulnerable and enrolled in public schools. For this, the principles of PROFESP are: (1) Reverse the situation of injustice, exclusion and social vulnerability in which young people find themselves, (2) Guarantee sports and recreation as a right of each one and a duty of the State, (3 ) Promote social inclusion through educational sports, (4) Make sports and food security a tool for social inclusion, (5) Universalize opportunities through physical and sports, educational, social, cultural and civic activities, and (6) Make the choice of inclusive activities developed by the centers more flexible.[24]

PROFESP as an opportunity for social development on the borders

Without a doubt, PROFESP is an opportunity to promote national development, mainly on the borders of Brazil. Consequently, the effective actions developed by this program generate the following benefits: (1) Development of social values ​​and citizenship, (2) Educational, cultural and social reinforcement, (3) Revelation of talents, (4) Development of physical capacity and motor, (5) Food reinforcement, and (6) Reduction of exposure to social risks, among others.[25] These benefits are generated not only for the young people enrolled in the program, but also for their families, for the neighborhood, for the schools where they study and for the community as a whole. This is due to the fact that PROFESP results contribute to social development in different areas, such as: (1) Education (through reducing school dropouts and increasing educational performance), (2) Society (through the reduction of violence against the family and society, the increase of environmental and citizen awareness, the expansion of social integration and the appreciation of life in society), (3) Culture (through the development of interest in the national and local culture), (4) Citizenship (through the strengthening of self-esteem, the feeling of belonging and the perception of rights and duties), (5) Physical and sports (through interest in physical and sports activity , teamwork, the development of a healthy competitive spirit, the appreciation of meritocracy and the development of motor skills), and (6) Food safety (through healthy eating and food reeducation).[26]

In this regard, PROFESP is effective in overcoming social challenges in border regions, by improving the conditions of young people in situations of social vulnerability. Likewise, the project generates benefits and contributions practically immediately, showing the following results from the beginning of its activities: (1) Social integration, (2) Democratization of access to the practice and culture of sports and educational sports activities, ( 3) Considerable improvement in school indexes, (4) Reduction of social risks, (5) Increase in the experience of professionals in the area of ​​physical education who are working with the program, (6) Physical security, (7) Food security, and (8) Dialogue, among others.[27]

In this context of contributions generated by PROFESP, young people are also enrolled in first-job programs for insertion in the labor market, such as PROGREDIR and Elite Aprendiz, among others. Thanks to the moral values ​​and other characteristics already mentioned that PROFESP offers young people, many of them are chosen as a priority for the different formal jobs available.[28] These programs offer training with work practices in private companies and the public sector, a benefit that arises from the alliances between institutions and companies to offer young people greater opportunities through PROFESP.

In the same sense, the research report commissioned by the Ministry of Defense on the results generated by PROFESP throughout the years 2017, 2018 and 2019, indicated that in the area of ​​Education more than a third was used in the market with some entering the military career, as well as a 10% improvement in the school performance of the participants.[29] Likewise, in the Health aspect there was a significant improvement in the indexes of the beneficiaries of the program. On the other hand, in sports there was a growing increase in performance and consistency in the practice of physical activity. These results confirm the contribution of PROFESP to the school performance of young people, to their physical and mental health, as well as to democratize everyone’s access to sport as an alternative not only for physical practice, but also for a work activity.


PROFESP is shown not only as an effective social development program, but also as an effective preventive program for Public Security and National Sovereignty implemented in Brazil. The success of the activities carried out with young people, the results obtained for this target audience, the benefits of the services offered (such as food, physical activity, promotion of moral values, among others) and the low costs compared to other social programs Government support the assertion made. Likewise, the spontaneous statements of PROFESP participants reveal the importance of this initiative in the lives of children and adolescents, since this socio-educational program promotes social inclusion and provides opportunities to participants.[30] In this sense, PROFESP contributes largely to provide a better life, reducing the social risks to which the participants are exposed, especially in relation to their involvement in illegal activities. In addition, it offers young people and their families the hope of a better and dignified future, with job opportunities and an adequate social life as a citizen.

The success of the results of this program is undoubtedly due to the joint effort of public institutions and private entities involved in this effort, which has a positive impact on the quality of life of children and adolescents in situations of social vulnerability. In this sense, the involvement and adequate use of the capabilities of the Brazilian Armed Forces made available to this program must be recognized, strengthening and strengthening civil-military relations.

Thanks to PROFESP, children and adolescents do not spend leisure time on the streets, as they engage in practical and creative activities after school, receiving adequate food and reinforcing their moral and civic values. Through this program, the child has the right to be a child and the adolescent envisions a more hopeful and secure future, with the certainty of a better life. Consequently, PROFESP is a successful model that can be applied in other spaces and for other demands, aiming at the social transformation of people who seek their autonomy and leadership in life. Additionally, it can serve as a model for other countries that demand socio-educational actions to improve the quality of life of their citizens.


  1. Caroline Krüger, et al., “Análise das políticas públicas para o desenvolvimento da faixa de fronteira brasileira,” Revista Ambiente e Sociedade (20 n.°.4, Oct./Dec. 2017), 41-44. (Cited April 5, 2021).
  2. Vagner Ferreira, Exército Brasileiro e Amazônia: intervenções educativas sociocomunitárias, intersubjetividade e tecnologias sociais no 3º Pelotão Especial de Fronteira – 3º PEF, em Pacaraima-RR (São Paulo: Centro Universitário Salesiano, 2016), Pósgraduação stricto sensu em Educação, 13 – 15, (Cited March 5, 2021).
  3. Ibid., 13.
  4. Cristiane Carvalho Silva Cardoso, A presença da Marinha do Brasil nas fronteiras molhadas do oeste brasileiro: o Projeto Forças no Esporte (PROFESP) na cidade de Ladário – MS (Mato Grosso do Sul: Universidade Federal de Mato Grosso do Sul, 2019), Pósgraduação stricto sensu em Estudos Fronteiriços, 4, (Cited March 5, 2021).
  5. Paula Gomes Moreira, “Trajetórias conceituais e novas formas de interação nas fronteiras brasileiras,” Livro Fronteiras do Brasil: uma avaliação de política pública. IPEA – Instituto de Pesquisa Econômica Aplicada (1, n.°. 453, 2018), 32, (Cited April 27, 2021).
  6. Bolivar Pêgo, et al., Livro Fronteiras do Brasil: uma avaliação de política pública. IPEA – Instituto de Pesquisa Econômica Aplicada (6, n.° 367, 2021), 102-104, (Cited June 8, 2021).
  7. Eduardo de Araújo, “O Sistema de Defesa do Arco Sul e a Fronteira,”. Livro Fronteiras do Brasil: uma avaliação de política pública. IPEA – Instituto de Pesquisa Econômica Aplicada (5, n.° 352, 2020), 40, (Cited April 27, 2021).
  8. IBGE. INSTITUTO BRASILEIRO DE GEOGRAFIA E ESTATÍSTICA, Uruguaiana (2021), (Cited March 16, 2021).
  9. UNESCO. Organización de las Naciones Unidas para la Educación, la Ciencia y la Cultura, Tranforming lives through educaction (2018), 158. (Cited April 2, 2021).
  10. Vagner Ferreira, Exército Brasileiro e Amazônia, 13 – 15.
  11. Ministério da Cidadania, Forças no Esporte. (Publicado en 16 de diciembre de 2019. Actualizado en 13 de julio de 2020), (Cited February 1, 2021).
  12. Ministério da Defesa, Programa Forças no Esporte (Posted: December 16, 2013. Updated: June 26, 2020), (Cited March 5, 2021).
  13. Ibid.
  14. Ministério da Cidadania, Forças no Esporte.
  15. Ministério da Defesa, Carinho com Disciplina! Informativo – PROFESP. (fev. 2020), 12, (Cited March 18, 2021).
  16. Ibid.
  17. Ibid.
  18. Ministério da Defesa, Cartilha do Comandante de Organização Militar – Programa Forças no Esporte-PROFESP (2020), 8-9.
  19. Ministério da Cidadania, Forças no Esporte.
  20. Exército Brasileiro, Relatório de Gestão do Comando do Exército – Exercício 2020. Estado-Maior do Exército. Marzo, 2021. (Brasília-DF, 2020), 17, (Cited April 27, 2021), 17.
  21. Ministério da Defesa, Carinho com Disciplina! Informativo – PROFESP, 2.
  22. Ibid.
  23. Ibid., 2-6.
  24. Ministério da Defesa, Cartilha do Comandante de Organização Militar – Programa Forças no Esporte-PROFESP, 7.
  25. Ministério da Defesa, Carinho com Disciplina! Informativo – PROFESP, 2.
  26. Ibid., 9.
  27. Ministério da Defesa, Cartilha do Comandante de Organização Militar – Programa Forças no Esporte-PROFESP, 8.
  28. Jornal de Barueri, Oportunidades. Elite Aprendiz: Profesp vai preparar jovens para o mercado de trabalho (30 de janeiro de 2020), (Cited July 22, 2021).
  29. Ministério da Defesa, Relatório sobre as conclusões de pesquisas sobre o Programa Forças no Esporte (PROFESP, 2019), 2-5.
  30. Ministério da Educação, “Ministro participa de abertura do Programa Forças no Esporte, que atende jovens carentes,” (13 de marzo de 2019), (Cited March 5, 2021).


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The ideas contained in this analysis are the sole responsibility of the author, without necessarily reflecting the thoughts of the CEEEP or the Peruvian Army.

Image: SGT Manfrim | MD