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By ESPN Staff
Jan 29, 2008

Beckham to build soccer academy in Brazil

SAO PAULO, Brazil -- David Beckham will open in Brazil the first "David Beckham World of Sport," a professional sports complex designed and planned with his input.

The complex -- including eight soccer fields, a 10,000-seat stadium and facilities for golf and tennis among others -- will be in a soon-to-be-built luxury resort near the northeastern city of Natal, according to a statement by the Cabo Sao Roque resort on Tuesday.

Beckham, who was in Brazil for the announcement, said the facility will incorporate a scholarship program for Brazilian children that will actively outreach to schools in the region, and that the training facilities will be able to accommodate visiting soccer teams and other sports such as American football.

"I don't want to teach [Brazilians] to play soccer," Beckham was quoted as saying by the Agencia Estado news service. "I want to offer a safe place for kids to develop their abilities."

Natal is one of the Brazilian cities bidding to host World Cup matches when the tournament comes to Brazil in 2014.

"I am honored to be associated with this incredible project which will build world-class sporting facilities in Brazil, hopefully having a major impact at a local level and internationally," Beckham said in a statement.

The latest David Beckham Academy -- a soccer school for youths -- will be among the highlights of the new development, which also will include two golf courses, academies for golf, polo and tennis, and the Rubens Barrichello Driving Experience comprised of a professional go-kart track and four-wheel driving facility created by the Brazilian Formula One driver.

The racing facility will offer a scholarship program for young Brazilians to help discover the country's next F1 driving champion, the statement said.

"I'm in this project with my name and my experience and I've bought the whole idea," Barrichello said. "It's an honor to share a partnership with a great name like Beckham, who has done so much to so many children who needed help. This development will certainly open new frontiers here."

Beckham has already established academies in London and in the Los Angeles suburb of Carson.

"[The] sporting experience will excite both professional athletes and people whatever their ability," Beckham said. "I am incredibly proud of the work my academies do both in London and Los Angeles and I am happy Brazilian children will benefit from access to the top-class facilities and coaching at this resort."

Beckham is a partner in the resort project along with the group Brazil Development Investimentos Turisticos.

The Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder said the sports complex was expected to be completed by the 2014 World Cup.