BY Livia Caroline Neves | Translation: Una C. Proença

In Brazil, any open space of land is used to play a soccer game. Without referees or bounderies and fancy goal nets, both teams are created by picking each other, usually first picking by level of skill, and a coin toss to see which side goes first. I think we could all relate with that. The goal is set up with two markers such as two blocks of wood or rocks and when lucky, two cones barrowed from the nearest construction site.

The ball itselfs, is sometimes made by stuffing a large sock with newspaper until it forms a round shape. Brazilian children will do anything it takes to improvise the ball. Once the ball is playable, the game begins. Anywhere and anytime, sun or rain. It doesn’t matter if you’re black or white, fat or skinny, tall or short, poor, rich, proud, or humble, everybody chases the ball.

Soccer is almost second nature for Brazilians. You either grow up playing ball or playing a musical instrument, it’s part of the culture as much as Carnaval, Pele and the Amazon. World Cups wouldn’t be the same without Brazil’s participation. The best part about the sport is the competition with other countries that also claim the sport the national pride. Italy, Argentina, and Spain for example contain so much passion in the game, even local newspapers transmitt the excitement. This excitement builds to a world climax, the World Cup fans eat and sleep the sport.

Brazil also has new growing soccer talent. Women’s Brazilian soccer team formed after 1994, when the men’s team had already won the World Cup four times. Tony DiCicco, an American Woman’s coach says, “the Brazilian National women’s team is among the most evolved in recent years”. This is a compliment since the American women’s team is much older and is ranked number one in the world classification by FIFA. China and Norway are followed in ranked on the international level.
Children in the USA, can learn soccer in school or camps as early as age 4. More than 18 million children participate in leagues and annual programs, making soccer the most popular youth sport in U.S!

According to doctors and physical therapists, soccer stimulates the body by producing stamina (the “well-being” hormone); it improves cardio and muscular performances and it develops motor coordination. If practiced frequently, it’s one of the most complete exercises and help burn calories. The American men’s team is among the best 10 in the world and soccer is now a “fever” in the USA. These reasons have led big corporations to sponsor soccer events worldwide which have generated millions in profits.

The financial return also explains why the U.S. brought two World Cups to America (the men’s in 1994; the women’s in 1999), and initiated two professional leagues (the men’s in 1995; the women’s in 2000).The spectacular performance by Brazil in soccer has given Brazilians opportunities to expand their knowledge in soccer.The ex-player of Guarani F.C. (1st division woman’s legue in Brazil), Juliana Filipe, is a three-time champion with the Union College; has the American national record with 144 goals; and “player of the year” by Naia.

Marcia Oliveira, has a Masters in Physical Education from the University of Northern Colorado. In 1998, she coached Mary Hardin-Baylor University (Belton-Texas), women’s team for three years, and now coaches the Bearkats of San Houston State University, making their debut in the NCAA first division, in 2003. An ex-player of the Flamengo and Fluminense (teams of Brazil), Luis Paulo Oliveria coaches the Cypress College, and other teams in California. Oliveira is proud of his young students, he says, ” many of these boys and girls already dream about learning soccer they believe the best school of the world is Brazil the land of yellow and green.”

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