Bom Dia from Brasilia
July 4, 2014. In one climactic boom the rapturous celebrations of Brasil’s third goal disappeared into a dizzying ring. Every game for the home country is a holiday: a Fourth of July where restaurants are as accommodating as reservations. Unfortunately the drunk-since-lunch lady at the table adjoining lacked either the arm or care to send her quarter sticks of dynamite much beyond touching distance, and we the Portuguese to understand ‘heads up’.
The passion here is infectious and omnipresent, if not explosive. Brasilians are here on this earth to enjoy t
hemselves; an approach to life that manifests itself in even the most fleeting of interactions. Situations where we may get angry and shake a fist or raise a finger to a stranger are smoothed here with a thumb’s up. There is no sense in telling off the idiot driving the wrong way, for that requires letting his actions affect you.
It was amazing to be given a week to engage and make friends in a community and culture where friendship is the understood starting point of every relationship. The language barriers that the game of soccer is able to bridge – to both create and deepen such opportunities – is the coolest gift of participating in a truly global game. To experience this in the football/soccer capital of the world, as my personal introduction to seeing what CAC does around the globe, was a dream.
The week on the field was awesome. Our games, in addition to being expressed in entirely new levels of soccer ability, had their rules adapted and expanded within days of their learning to address both the little problems hampering the enjoyment of their playing, and those of greatest community and societal importance. Our group of 29 held the perfect mix of passion and ideas from the university students preparing to become physical education teachers, and poignant questions and quiet control from the older, established teachers and coaches from the community, to really focus our time and help to maximize the week we had together. From bringing American Football maneuvers into Circle of Friends, to a passionate post-game discussion with Ellen, our Community Impact Coach from ACER in Sao Paulo, about creative strategies and methods of coaching Messi for Health and Wellness, the group was a shining example of the power of self-directed learning.
When the day ended with Falcao for Fun, Mel Baskind formed a team of three with a pair of Brasilian sisters and ran the rest of the group off the field. The next day she found herself instead as a member of my team, and was megged to the point of disbelief and near wobbly ankles by the fifteen-year-old younger of the two. The girls were approached with extreme caution whenever in possession for the rest of the week.
The week in Brasilia was full of highlights:
-The city shut down entirely to host Brasil’s third and final group against Cameroon on Monday.
-Mel, Colton, and I watched Portugal and Ghana battle back and forth to a thrilling and perfect result for we Americans in the national stadium.
-The same twist of the Portuguese language that has given us Ronaldinho’s for our Ronaldo’s allowed Tiffany (our hero and only translator) to provide a true highlight of the week when she announced that we were finished and the team in the pinnies (little soccer shirts) were free to take their condoms off.
We are off to Rio with high expectations, as the standard set in Brasilia will be tough to beat in more ways than one!