May 31, 2006
Soccer, more soccer, sun and more sun! The rain of the first couple of days seems like a distant memory as the weather has been absolutely perfect during our week at the Santa Filomena training center. Temperatures are in the high 70s during the day and it cools down to the low 50s in the evenings which makes perfect sleeping conditions. I must also mention the food. The kitchen has their meals perfectly structured with carbs, protein, veggies and fruits and I have rarely been in this kind of environemnt and enjoyed the food as much. It is very easy to see why so many professional teams use this as their getaway practice retreat.
Sunday was a nice day away from playing. Fr. Bill (Seetch) held mass in the morning and then a day shopping in Sao Paulo followed by a pro game – Palmeiras v Gremio – rounded off a perfect day. Monday saw the team get back into harness. In the morning we watched video of our match with UNIP and then followed up with an afternoon putting the lessons learned into our practice. Tuesday saw us take on the U-21 Paulista team. Again this was a team of U-21 young Brazilian professionals and served as an excellent test. We went down early in the game and a couple of excellent saves by freshman goalkeeper Andrew Quinn kept us in the game. The team came together and two excellent goals by Ian Etherington and Joseph Lapira saw us go into the interval with a 2-1 advantage. The second half saw Notre Dame take control and further goals by Kurt Martin and Bright Dike saw the game finish 4-1 for the Irish. This was an excellent result and certainly one of the best performances so far.
Well it is now time to leave our retreat and head for Rio. It is back onto the bus, back to Sao Paulo, and then a flight up to Rio de Janeiro, the city of Sugar Loaf mountain and the Copacabana Beach. Add a further couple of games and you can see why we really don’t want this trip to end.