CAC in Rio de Janiero during the World Cup
July 9, 2014. This blog was written by Alex Torres-Tarver who is on his first trip with Coaches Across Continents. Alex is also closely affiliated with our partner One World Futbol as his parents were the co-founders.
As I prepare to begin my second week of volunteering with CAC, I find myself reflecting on the past week spent in Rio De Janeiro. This city fulfilled every expectation I had of Brazil: the scenery, friendly locals, and of course an unbelievable love of soccer. That passion for the sport—along with the opportunities for learning and development it presents— was the driving force in the small but committed group of local coaches we worked with.
I must say on the first day I felt a tad nervous as the coaches slowly began arriving. Not only was the group small, but as they arrived I became increasingly aware of my complete incompetence in portuguese. Besides Bom Dia (good day) and Obrigado (Thank you), I resorted speaking spanish and hoping they understood (they usually didn’t—fortunately Tiffany was around to bridge that gap when necessary). As the first day progressed those nerves flew out the window. As I watched grown men laugh and play like kids I quickly saw the power these games could have on children. What began as arguing, bickering and frustration in problem solving games, quickly evolved into a much more strategic and coordinated effort as the coaches realized that the challenge of collectively solving a problem is exactly what their kids need. The Adebayor games which address HIV and sexual health held a high pertinence—sex tourism and the spread of HIV are large (and growing) problems in Rio— and the coaches responded to the games with insight of their own with respect to how the games could be applied.
Having spent many years witnessing the development of the One World Futbol, it was impressive to see the how the ball was being used around the world. While the turf fields we were training on weren’t necessarily the most rugged of terrains, the ball was being used for social development—exactly what it was created for. And it was not hard to imagine the hundreds—or thousands— of children who over the next few years would be playing with the 20 balls we gave away in Rio.
The week of training was only complemented by the the city itself. With World Cup games on most days and the myriad of tourist destinations, we found no shortage of activities to occupy our free time. Attending the FIFA Fan Fest on Copacabana beach for the USA-Belgium was inspiring, and the chant “I believe that we will win” still rings in my ears despite the difficult loss. On the 4th of July we decided to wake up early and hike up mount Corcovado to Christ the Redeemer. The 2 hour uphill hike through the foggy urban rainforest was beautiful and topped off by the amazing view when we reached at the summit. After making it back before noon, we barbecued and watched Germany-France game which seemed a fitting way to enjoy the age-old American tradition of grilling and watching sports. Our 4th of July was topped off by venturing to a Brazillian fan fest, an event which did not disappoint in the slightest. After the first goal by Brazil, the crowd erupted into a frenzy of dancing and cheering which of course sent a mixture of beer and caipirinhas raining down on us. The day—and our time in Rio—ended with a Brazilian victory and lots of good vibes.
Rio was exciting and beautiful to say the least, but now we must begin anew in a different city—Sao Paolo.