From Obama Eagle newspaper.
Posted: 18 Jun 2014 07:59 AM PDT
With Futebol, Nothing Else Matters!
Around the age of three, sometimes earlier sometimes later, kids all over the world are taught the basics of playing soccer, Futebol in Portuguese. In Pittsburgh and around the US, most kids learn in youth organizations like Dynamo Soccer, and then some go on to play for their school teams, but a lot of the time it ends there. In other places around the world, it's more of a lifestyle than anything else. Pickup games can be found in streets, back alleys or preexisting fields. In Brazil, it's even more than that: it's a religion. We've had first-hand experience with this in our first few days, seeing cars covered in flags, streamers hanging above streets, and World Cup murals painted in the middle of major roadways.
Yesterday, we saw the power of Futebol on the most basic level. At a small sand field behind the home of our host, we began playing soccer with three local kids. They didn't speak a word of English, and we speak absolutely no Portuguese, but it didn't matter. It didn't matter that we didn't know their names, because whenever anyone made a great play they were called "Neymar", "Ronaldo" or "Messi", Gods of the soccer world (although we found out later the kids were Igor, Andre and Evan). It didn't matter that we were born on two separate continents, because the rules are simple and all we needed was a ball. It didn't matter that we were thousands of miles from home, because we were playing in the middle of the Amazon Rainforest, and not a lot of people get to have an experience that cool. For a few short hours, we weren't Americans, and they weren't Brazilians: we were jogadores de futebol (soccer players) and nothing else mattered. Except maybe the score.
After the game, we were invited to Andre's house through pointing, and a few simple phrases, and there we watched the United States play Ghana. When Clint Dempsey scored 30 seconds into the game, we celebrated as Americans, and they understood, because they experienced the same feeling when Neymar scored the first goal of the World Cup for Brazil.