Sunday, May 22, 2011

Are you ready for some FUTEBOL?

Good morning all. It is another sunny day in Goiania and I can see where they say it is the dry time of year. There are a few clouds in the sky but definitely no rain. I am very thankful that the evenings get cool or I could quickly change my mind about Brazil. Since I am in Brazil and this country loves its “futebol” (soccer in the U.S., but I will call it “futebol” in respect for my current location), I figured I had better attend a game. Fortunately Luiz’s nephew is a regular at the local stadium and there is a state championship game this afternoon and I have plans to see what it's like. (side note: these are professional teams)

You see, every night before heading to bed, I get to watch a little bit of this sport from my bedroom window. When I first arrived in Brazil I was surprised that they would begin playing a game at 2:00 A.M. I have come to realize that there is not many times of the day where you cannot find a game being played below my window. The fields are actually a part of a futebol school,  so all during the day and into the evening there are guys of all ages down on the field practicing and playing games. Dreaming of someday being the next Ronaldo or Pele.

To Brazilians futeboll is almost a religion. The country is full of professional futebol teams similar to sports like basketball, football, and baseball in the United States. Their players making salaries like professional sports players in the U.S. However, the sport was not always popular in Brazil as in 1914 they could barely get a national team together.  The rise of the futebol can be credited to several players who have inflamed a passion for the sport throughout the country. Starting with Leonidas de Silva who was the first person (a Brazilian) to score 4 goals in a World Cup match. The history of Brazilian Futebol rise then continues with a great offensive duo of Pele and Garrincha. These two stars lead the Brazilian team to World Cup victory in 1958, 1962, and 1970. (*Garrincha had retired before the 1970 win). These victories instilled a desire in young Brazilian’s all over the country to become like them. Then in 1994 the Brazilian team with players such as, Dunga, Romario, Bebeto, and Cafu clinched the countries fourth World Cup. In 2002 with players like Ronaldo, Rivaldo, and Ronaldinho, (the three R’s) they won their unprecedented fifth World Cup. So, as you can imagine, expectations are high for those playing on the Brazilian national team. (thanks again wikipedia)
During the last World Cup in 2010, I was actually traveling through the United States sightseeing with Luiz and some Brazilian friends. When it was game time we had to stop and find a television showing the game. (not that I minded as I enjoy a good futebol game) If it was morning we would request an late check out from the hotel and started late as to not miss the game. The Brazilian team ended up being knocked out in the quarterfinals by the Netherlands. My traveling companions were truly disappointed and a little depressed this day.

Now, back to current day and my trip to the Goiania’s Estadio Serra Dourada Stadium which is an important venue in the city.  Inaugurated in 1975 with a capacity of 45,000, it is home to all the important games of the region and the upcoming rematch between Brazil,s national team and the Netherlands (remember they eliminated Brazil in the 2010 World Cup)  We have driven by the stadium earlier in my visit and it definitely is not post card material or kept at a level that invites people to attend.  I understand there are current plans for renovating the stadium as it does serve its purpose and could use a spruce up. After a pre game lunch at Kabana's with Yasmin (one of my futebol game guides) and a couple of friends (whom like Luiz, are not attending the game). We head over to Luiz’s brothers house to meet up with my second  futebol game guide “Paulo Vitor”. Dressed in neutral colors when I arrive to their home, his nephew hands me a green jersey to wear in support of the Goias team.  I am not much of a jump on the band wagon guy traditionally, but decide it must be part of the experience and I am going for the experience.  We head out all decked in green and as we are descending in the elevator, it stops on the 7th floor where there is a kid (around 12 or 13 years old) waiting for the elevator wearing red and black. (other team)  He opens the door and upon seeing the three of us wearing all green,  decides to wait for the next elevator. After a little assurance from us that it is OK, he changes his mind and gets into the elevator. The elevator stops a couple floors later and the kid gets off. As he leaves he informs us that we are spending our time in vain (of course in Portuguese so I am relying on translation from my futebol guides). We chuckle and continue on the elevator to the parking level.  We laugh a bit about his hesitance to ride the elevator with us as we head to the car.

We arrive at the stadium and it is a little chaotic as there is no one directing traffic like in the United States.  People are randomly driving through the lot,  looking for a "good" place to park.  Fortunately since we have arrived early, the parking lot is pretty empty and it is easy to find a spot.  We walk up the hill to the stadium. It's pretty much like any stadium event I have been to, with people herded like cattle to the right gate.  They are assisted by their ticket and the other fans searching for their way. We enter through the ticket gate and Paulo Vitor heads to the security guard and gets frisked. I follow hesitantly as I am not sure they need to frisk everyone or did they motion for him to come there? After realizing that this procedure is for everyone and that is where Yasmin has headed, I position myself for my turn. While being frisked I am not aware the guard wants me to lift up my shirt showing my belt. Fortunately, Paulo Vitor is not far away and informs them I am American and that I do not speak Portuguese .  We all have a little chuckle - security gaurd included.  We get inside the stadium and my guides are discussing where to seat (it is open seating). You see, there is a "family" section and a "rowdy" section. I think they usually sit in the "rowdy" section but they think it may be "better for photos" in the other section (or maybe they are thinking I am old and concerned with me enjoying myself in the rowdy section????). After the short discussion we  find a seat in the "family" section. We are sitting there no longer then 10 minutes when the decision is made to move. I can tell they would rather be on the other side of the field.  I also assure them that I am fine with this move and am here for the experience so bring it on! When we first arrive in the "rowdy" section it is not much different then where we were but soon the stands began to fill in and it gets louder. In our section they hand out (not environmentally friendly) plastic bags and everyone begins to blow them up. Once inflated they rub them to make noise to compliment their cheers and clapping. Several hours before the game, thousands of fans have gathered a distance from the stadium. Led by drums and flag carrying fanatics they parade through the streets to the stadium.  Chanting and making as much noise as they can celebrating their predicted victory.  They begin their grand entrance into the stadium, the crowd begins to chant with them in unison as they make their way to their seats(which they won't use much) in the "rowdy" section.  Taking into consideration that this parade is occurring for both teams on the different ends of the stadium at aproximately the same time. It is extremely loud as everyone is jumping around and shouting their teams chants.  Truly an experience to be in the middles of. The “futebol” game begins and the noise and chanting gets louder. At one point, although I am standing there watching, I am literally bouncing up and down. The stands themselves are moving from the ecstatic crowd jumping around. At this point I appreciate that my guides have prior warned me of this possible situation, but cannot keep from silently hoping the city engineers have checked the structural integrity of the stadium recently. The game is exciting, but the green team Goias is struggling. The apposing team scores the first goal and their crowd goes bananas. I think to myself "I hope Goias scores as I would like the experience of being in the crowd when that happens". The first half ends with a1-0 score and I am a little disappointed - no green score. After half time the military guards with their dogs emerge around the edge of the field, but the crowd has mellowed. It continue to be mellow until about midway through the second half when the Athletico player gets a red card and is thrown out of the game.  That ends up being the only excitement as the game time ticks down and people begin to leave. During half time we have moved down a bit to better position ourselves for our escape and toward the end of the game we head for the door. As we are walking outside the stadium, the crowd gets loud and we find out Goias has scored and now it is 1-1.  I am a little disappointed as all game long I wanted to be in the middle of the eruption of the crowd during a score.  The fact that half the crown has left at this point eases my disappointment quickly.  We briefly discuss returning for the end of the game but Paulo Vitor informs us that this score is of little consequence. That in order for Goias to win the championship they need to beat the Athleticos and not tie them. There will be no penalty kick final, so we continue to the car.  As we walk are treated to a wonderful sunset. I thank Paulo Vitor and Yasmin for being my guides for this experience, I had a wonderful time. I cannot wait to attend my next “futebol” game.
I can now see why Brazilians have a passion for the support and how exciting it can be.

(Go to "A day in the Country")



ricardo luiz irineu brito said...

Dave, hey man, you really seems like a regular Goias Esporte Clube´s fan. nice to knows you did enjoy the event! i hope next time you can see Goias win the game.

Dave said...

Me too -- and even better yet, I hope they win!! Go Goias! (ok maybe a little more support then I am ready for) thanks for reading!

Paulo Vítor said...

glad to read it!!! i was not sure if you were posting it or not!! kkkkkk it´s good to see how you felt about it, because its one of my passions.. glad you enjoied it, too!! We´ll have some more fun in july!! keep posting!!

Dave said...

Paulo Vitor -- I really did enjoy it and look forward to attending again. I could how passionate you are for the sport as I see in Brazil in general. Looking forward to going again in the future!