This week, 20-plus girls from theIMG Academy soccer program will tour and train in Brazil â one of the world powers in soccer. Haley Talbot of the IMG Academy soccer program is keeping a journal during the visit:
Another beautiful day in Sao Paulo! The girls team has been very active the past few days as we have continued to have practices and games, along with a trip into the city of Sao Paulo for a cultural experience.
Yesterday, we had an early practice followed by a two-hour bus ride to the city. We spent the afternoon in one of the finest malls in Brazil. From the mall, we went to a sports club which apparently are very common in Brazil. The club offered countless sports including soccer, basketball, swimming, gymnastics, futsal, beach volleyball, tennis, judo, fencing, tae-kwon-doe, and many others. After walking around the campus, we prepared ourselves for a 7- aside game at 7:30pm against an older team from the club. The game was played on turf and we quickly learned the new rules of futsal. It definitely was a learning experience! After three twenty minute periods, the score was 8-6 with some amazing goals from both sides.
After a long day, we have had a more relaxed schedule or âtranquiloâ as Marcelo would say. This morning, we had practice followed by lunch and some time by the pool. We have been enjoying the Brazilian sun and look forward to time at the beach in Rio de Janeiro. Tonight apparently there is a Capoeira group coming for a performance.
DAYS 3 AND 4
After a one-hour flight from Sao Paulo, we have arrived in RIO DE JANEIRO! The landscape is beautiful and the streets are filled withpeople. There is an atmosphere and culture very different than what we experienced in Sao Paulo.
As we landed, we went straight to pick up our bags and board a bus to our final 11 vs. 11 match with Botafogo club. We played at their practice fields which the professional team trains at daily. The match was aggressive, and we ended the game with a 5-1 victory.
The following morning in Rio, we woke up early to enjoy the beach and walk around the city. We used the Portuguese we have picked up to navigate the streets yet no matter what we always attract a lot of attention. By the end of the day, everyone had a good dose of Brazilian sun and relaxation and we were ready for a busy day of sightseeing the following day.
At 11:00 we left our hotel for an afternoon in the city of Rio de Janeiro. We started the afternoon at a local market. There were hundreds of tiny booths set up and crowds of people steering through the aisles and aisles of shops. You could hear traces of various languages and accents of people from all over the world. The market was hectic and busy but it was interesting to be immersed in the atmosphere. Stores were selling different items ranging from jewelry and clothing to food and small monuments.
From the market, we drove to the well- known Pan de Azucar or Sugarloaf Mountain. We took two cable cars to the top of the mountain which is situated 396 meters above the harbor. The view from the top was like nothing we had seen before. There were endless miles of ocean and strings of islands. Along with the Christ monument, it is one of the most visited spots in Brazil and upon arriving to the peak we instantly learned why.
To continue our busy afternoon we drove by the famous Copa Cabana beach and the well-known Copa Cabana Hotel on our way to watch a professional game. We arrived at the stadium and despite having been warned about the passionate fans, the ambience was not like anything we were used to. We watched Vasco play against Botafogo. There were some great goals and a lot of mixed emotions from the fans which included waving flags, singing, dancing, and a lot of screaming. The quality was unbelievable and the match provided us with a better understanding of the level and dedication of Brazilian soccer. The streets were flooded with people in jerseys and it was clear that life centered around their respective teams and players.
Tomorrow we have another busy day planned including a visit to the Christ statue and a beach soccer practice with a Brazilian coach.