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Men's Soccer in Brazil

Posted: 08/20/2010

Every four years, the Skidmore men’s soccer team raises money for a summer  trip to a foreign country to play soccer, soak up a different culture, and bond for the upcoming season. They’ve been to China, Costa Rica, and England.

This year, coach Ron McEachen’s squad – consisting of 21 players and two coaches, plus two fathers who opted to come along – made a two-week sojourn to Brazil, the undisputed mecca of soccer worldwide.

Leaving August 3 and returning August 12, the team stayed in the northeastern city of Salvador, Bahia, Brazil’s fourth largest city, its first capital, and the center of  its slave trade in the 1600s. Today the city is known as the birthplace of the Samba and the heart of the country’s African culture.

Introduced to Brazil in the late 1800s by British sailors, soccer started as a sport for the upper class, but now everyone plays -- on “futsal” courts (basketball courts with soccer goals), the beach, and just about any patch of available dirt. By the age of nine or ten, the best already are playing for professional club youth teams that are astonishingly good. The Thoroughbreds competed against a wide range of these teams, including four of the Vitoria’s club highly accomplished youth teams, the Bahia club’s reserve squad, a pickup team from one of Salvador’s many favelas, and even the employees’ team at the hotel where they stayed.

It took a while for the Thoroughbreds to find their rhythm, but they did, and all agreed that the trip was the best preparation possible for the upcoming season in which they hope to go to the Liberty League Tournament and beyond.

Photos by Peter MacDonald