Saturday, October 22, 2011

A Saturday filled with Futebol and Rugby

If you know anything about Brazilian Soccer, you know Pele, Garrincha, Romario, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Robinho, Kaka, and maybe even the 19 year old national star Neymar. But most of you probably have not heard of the local footballer (soccer player) "Bernardino". Like the greats before him, he only needs one name. And for a special effect, add the O at the end of his real name, Bernard. Today I was invited by Valerio (the Entrepreneur I am working with) to watch his son play soccer at the SPAC. Most of you are probably thinking that SPAC is the guy from the Star Trek series, but in fact it stands for Sao Paulo Athletic Club. SPAC was founded in 1888 by Charles Miller, the guy who brought the English game of football/soccer to Brazil. The tradition runs deep at the club as the walls of the clubhouse are lined with trophies, pictures, and other memorabilia that detail the history of the club.

Sao Paulo Athletic Club

Today was already off to a great start before heading to the SPAC. I was able to jog around the Jardins Paulista area and through Trianon Park (no back pain!) as well as take care of some errands. I then took a taxi to the Brooklin area near the Tecno Logys offices where Valerio and his family live. Unfortunately for you guys, there were no crazy taxi stories today. After a quick tour of the residence, we headed to the SPAC. During the drive, I was recalling the famous act of Babe Ruth Calling his Shot (or perhaps you prefer the guarantee made by Coop from Baseketball?) and informed Bernard, that I was expecting three goals today. Like any of Brazil's soccer greats, he deflected the pressure for a guarantee like a well played header.  We arrived at the club and had lunch in the pub area before the game started. I had the Filet Parmesan, which should be no surprise to any of you at this point, as I have had it about 5 times now in Sao Paulo. It was now game time. There were actually going to be two soccer games today, the Sao Paulo B team and the Sao Paulo A team. Bernard plays on both so we found a seat and were ready for the matches.

To our surprise, the B League Rugby Championship was being played on another field that was parallel to the soccer field, so we were able to catch glimpses of this game as well. There was not much to discuss about the first game as it was rather sloppily played by both teams as the Sao Paulo B Team fell in a lopsided affair, despite Bernard's goal and assist which is captured below in a video. (For the B Team in blue, he is the #10 jersey (#20 shorts because that is his number for the A Team). He starts with the far side isolation and then gets the assist in the middle of the field)

In between the two soccer games, the rugby match was getting heated as it was in the final minutes. Below is a brief video of Rugby, I don't really understand that rules all that much, so it doesn't really matter that they are speaking in Portuguese, but its a cool video to check out. The team in white eventually went on to hoist the trophy in the air, which appeared to be just a new rugby ball. I was informed earlier that rugby is a relatively new sport in Brazil so apparently they have not figured out that they need an actual trophy yet either haha.

It was now time for the Sao Paulo Athletic Club "A" Team to play. To give you some more background on the team, SPAC was the original professional team in Brazil and won the inaugural championship. They have now become one of the premier club teams for amateurs. The "B" team is what I would consider to be a "JV" team in American Sports and the "A" team would be the "Varsity" team. This game had a different feel as it was far more competitive, and the players were much more involved in the game. SPAC got off to an early lead behind some fancy footwork from the young Bernardo. He added yet a second goal and two more assists in the second game. In fact, he actually scored another goal, which would have been the third goal for the day (remember the whole 3 goals today thing?), but the referee made a bad mistake and stopped the play right before his shot. The goalie had come out of his box to contend Bernard, and when he tried to take the ball away, he actually fouled Bernard. But with his great footwork, he maintained his balance and score the goal. For those that don't know the issue with this, the referee should not have stopped the play because the person/team being fouled still had the advantage. The best part was that the referee knew he made a mistake, and there were several "No Calls" which benefited SPAC  over the next couple of minutes. The game ended in a 6-5 score with the home club taking the victory behind great play from the young striker, #20 in your programs, #1 in your heart, Bernardo.

After the game, it was only fitting to go back in the club house and try a famous pastel from the pub. For those that forgot about my post about pastels, they are a fried crispy dough with filling. The most common fillings are meat and cheese, however this pastel had much more. Valerio was correct in saying they were the best pastels, and the ingredients of meat, cheese, olives, hard boiled egg, and fresh tomatoes were the perfect combination.

Reflecting on the day, "Bernardo" finished with 2 official goals, 3 assists, and had the two best fans there. Despite the stat line not officially reading 3 goals, he more than exceeded expectations, except for that missed Penalty Kick, right Bernard? :-) But I should have expected nothing less from a 19 year old college student who holds a black belt in Taekwondo, and taught himself English from video games, movies, and the Internet.

I will say that these games had multiple yellow and red cards, and a lot more goals than what I am used to with American Soccer, so it was much more enjoyable. Now, I just need to head to a local professional game and see some of these crazy Brazilian soccer fans. It's now time to call it a night and watch the World Series in Portuguese, which is perfect. Why you ask? Because baseball announcers are the most boring in the professional, so this will be the perfect change! I just heard "Home Run, St Louis Cardinals", see this wont be so hard.

Tradition runs thick at SPAC

Goodnight Sao Paulo.

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