June 4, 2006
Rio surely has proved to be one of the most scenic cities in the world. The constant crashing of the waves never seems to be very far away no matter where you are in the city. The day after our Olaria game it was straight to the beach for a run and a stretch. After about an hour of activity the waves were beckoning. As a Scot who is not used to the surging surf I suggested not to go in too deep but also to have a ‘buddy system’ where there was always someone accountable. There were shouts of derision from a couple of the southern California contingent among us as they claimed that California had much bigger waves.
We seemed no time into our swim when a very excited lifeguard appeared in red costume and wildly blowing his whistle. He had spotted……yes you guessed it…..Ian (Etherington) and Alex (Yoshinaga), our California surf kings seemingly miles away in the surf. It was an exciting 20 minutes as two more lifeguards appeared and were soon out in the sea working the two bold heroes back to land. They both gave it the ‘big one’ of no fear but on subsequent swims seemed very content to join the rest of us in the waist high surf…..and I can tell you it was very impressive.
It was pretty much tourist mode from here on in. We saw the famous Sugar Loaf mountain, visited the Copacabana and Ipanema beaches but by far the most impressive visit was our trip up to Corquovado – the statue od Christ the Redeemer. This huge statue overlooks the entire city and gives a magnificent vista of this beautiful city.
There was another visit to the Maracana stadium to see Flumenese play International. This time there was around 25,000 in the ground and the atmosphere was phenomenal. Samba drums beat out rhythm throughout the entire match and flag wavers with huge banners kept going right alongside the drums. Add the continual participation of the fans and it was an atmosphere never to be forgotten. The game ebbed back and forward with Internacional finally winning by 3-2 but the fans were kept involved right up until the final whistle.
That was almost the end. The team wanted one last stop for souvenirs at the street venders on the Copacabana and then it was back for our last night in Rio.
The next morning it was up early as we had a 12.00 noon kick off against 2SV a team all of whom were going to play college soccer in the US. Like in the game against the UNIP side earlier in the tour, we started all the lads who had not had a start. Everyone played but roles were reversed a little. The team fought out a 0-0 tie on a very warm day and this game marked our 6th match in a 12 day period. This in itself is great testimony to the fitness and preparation of the team to take on Brazilian teams, four of which were full professionals.
From the 2SV game it was straight back to our hotel, a quick shower and straight to Rio airport for our journey home. A fabulous immersion in soccer and by doing that meant a great look into the culture of this great footballing nation.
Here are the stats so far:
ND 1 – 2 Santos U-19s
ND 0 – 1 Palmeiras Reserves
ND 4 – 2 UNIP
ND 4 – 1 Paulista U-21s
ND 2 – 0 Olaria U-21s
ND 0- 0 @ 2SF