Aug. 18, 2000
Tuesday, August 15
We got up today, ate quickly and it was off to a soccer game. Apparently the team that we played was the city champion of Araraquara. Most of our younger players played the game and they did really well. Unfortunately, one of them basically sneezed on a Brazilian player in the box and a penalty kick was called. As you can tell I didn't agree with the call. Then after the game we left for a new city, Santos. Half way there we stopped at Carecca's Soccer School. Carecca is a very famous Brazilian soccer player who has been voted one of the top 100 players in soccer history. We actually got to meet him, take pictures, and he gave us a tour. We also met his Brazilian teammate from the World Cup, Edmar. Randy looked like a kid in a candy shop and it was really exciting to meet such soccer stars. We then ate dinner at another one of those meat restaurants and we returned to the hotel rather late and very tired.
Wednesday, August 16
Today started out as a pretty regular day. We ate breakfast and then drove to Sào Paolo for a game against a professional women's team. Well, that was the start of an eye-opening experience. It had rained earlier in the morning so the men's team decided to use the field we were going to play on. We were then forced to go to a new set of fields and play on a dirt field that didn't have any lines. There were also no referees so two coaches from the other club refereed the game. One thing I've learned in Brazil about soccer is that home field advantage really does exist. Every game that we have played has definitely been biased against us. There apparently is no off sides for Brazilians, yet we Americans have been called off at least five times a game. I think experiences that include such adversity will help us since we are able to fight through them and learn from them.
Anyway, the game became very physical and we were on the receiving end of some cheap shots. After a while of playing with this, we decided to protect ourselves by going into every tackle very hard and the professionals didn't like this. It got really dirty and the "ref" called the game early. We grabbed our bags and quickly headed for our bus. We did not want to stick around such a hostile environment. We are all fine so I hope this entry doesn't make anyone worry.
We did learn a good soccer tactic from that game. We were losing 3-0 when the game was called and the whole game we were confused with their formation. They played a 4-4-2 but their four midfielders were not straight across like the other college teams at home. Rather it was in a box shape that moves as a block. The team we play tomorrow uses the same formation so we had a meeting when we got back to try to make some adjustments.
OK, enough about soccer. I learned some random bits of information about Brazil:
1. When traveling through Brazil alway stay in hotels. Motels are rented in four-hour time slots for "conjugal" visits.
2. McDonalds are found throughout the cities but they are only for the rich. One hamburger costs $4.
3. The game here is $1.50 per liter, not gallon. Cars are also expensive so most people walk or ride bikes.
4. Most Brazilian people are extremely skinny and part of the reason is the majority of these people play soccer every day after work.
5. The drive we take between Santos and Sào Paolo is absolutely breathtaking. We ride on and through a range of mountains where we can see the city below, trees and waterfalls in the distance and a 400 feet drop on either side. I hope pictures will do the view justice.
Thursday, August 17
Today was another day of traveling and playing. We toured the Sào Paolo Futebol Club's stadium. It is the second largest soccer stadium in Brazil. We then drove through many, many shanty towns, where houses are piled on top of one another on the side of he mountain, to get to the practice field where we were playing. We tied the club 0-0 but the game was called a few minutes short. Boof [Kelly Lindsey] hurt her hip (she is OK, just a bruise) and was in pain. We waited for over an hour for the ambulance to get there. If it had been someone with a serious injury, they would have been dead. It definitely made me appreciate being in America where it doesn't take an hour for help to come. Appreciation is definitely the word that describes today.
I think everyone that was standing with Boof waiting for the paramedics is thankful for the U.S. and what we have been privileged and spoiled with. Well, to end the night we went to a pizzeria where [Notre Dame assistant athletic director] Tony Yelovich and Boof met us. We sang some songs and karaoke and went home to bed, emotionally exhausted.