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Waking up with the Surf - Day 5 – Scott Turnbull

For the second time on this trip I was awoken by someone banging on my door.

Fortunately this morning it was Coach DeVries and his daughter Mikeala picking me up to join them for an early morning dip in the ocean. So after quickly changing into my swim shorts and putting on my flip flops we made the short walk downhill to the beach. The day was perfect with the bright shinning sun and a cool southeast breeze off of the ocean. Standing in the surf is a very relaxing way to wake up and soak in a little sun all at once. The gentle pounding of the waves beat any whirlpool. Afterwards we headed back up the hill to the hotel for another great meal at Laina’s. I can’t say enough about how great the food has been here, we are truly lucky to have such a great cook and good service!

Boarding a bus in late morning we headed to the FaceX Athletic Complex to play Futsol against a Brazilian team. We split our squad into two and each played a forty minute game against some very skilled Brazilians, including three professional players who make their trade in Europe. Two of these players also earned Gold Medals in Futsol at the World University Games. So needless to say our boys had their hands full all game long. It was a great experience to play against such skilled players who make their living playing this technically challenging game. I am sure it will be one of the most memorable soccer highlights for many of our players, as is the rest of this trip! No need to mention scores but we lost both games by less than ten goals. In this high scoring sport that’s pretty good.

After lunch we gave the boys the rest of the day to relax and enjoy the weather at the beach. After days of rain and a very quiet beach, it came to life with a sea of umbrellas lining the shore and a sea of vendors lining the boardwalk. The vendors were selling almost anything. You could find sunglasses, hammocks, snake-skin belts, paintings, bikinis, t-shirts and a huge variety of soccer jerseys. Not to mention the endless amount of food that vendors that pushed up and down the beach in their carts, offering their treats to all beachgoers. As much as the Brazilian people like to relax on the beach, they also love to play there as well. There were several games of paddleball and beach soccer games going on as we passed by. They makeshift metal goals stuck into the sand were the only markings on the field with only the water as a sideline. A primitive “weight room? was also found on the beach with a chin up bar and dip bench made of wooden boards and the plywood weight bench holding a bar with two concrete disks on either end of the bar. You would think it was only there for show until you saw two guys working out with the equipment. The beach was alive with the sights and sounds of Brazil and I was soaking in all of it!!

Later in the afternoon Miguel invited Beto, Coach DeVries, Richard Veth and myself to watch the ABC U20 team play in game one of their League Championship. They played the other Natal professional club, America FC. The large stadium was quite empty but the passionate ABC faithful that were there were not afraid to show their allegiances. Every time America’s number ten touched the ball he was pelted with insults and was referred to as “Dancer? for his lack of productivity with the ball and unwillingness to pass. “Dancer? did however get a little revenge as he scored the lone goal for America to tie the game early in the second half. He celebrated enthusiastically and pounded his chest to the home side fans that were, luckily for him, separated from him by both the riot police and a twenty foot high chain link fence. He then pointed to the number on the back of his jersey as if the entire fan base did not realize it was he that had just found the goal. Let’s just say this did not win over any of the fans. In fact a few of the words they started calling him after that cannot be repeated in this blog and I didn’t really need a translator to recognize them. That goal didn’t help his team either as ABC found the back of the net for three more beautiful goals and won the match 4-1. They play the return match the day we leave and ABC can claim the title with a win or a tie. The passion of the fans was incredible with some almost in tears as they stood and cheered, thrusting their fists in the air with pride. I can not wait until we see the top ABC club in action with the stadium full of supporters all displaying the same emotion at once. I am sure it will send chills up my spine.

Tomorrow is another great day as we hop in dune buggies to visit the largest sand dunes in Brazil. It is a day long trip and is sure to be quite the ride! Until tomorrow, chow!!