Some consider soccer a sport. For others, it’s more like a religion. And growing up in a typical Brazilian household that was the case: Soccer was a religion. At least to my Dad. On Sundays, timed like church bells, the radio and TV would be on, while soccer players, just like Saints, would receive pleas of mercy for one more Gol. And on desperate matches, God would be involved as well. Many times, only His intervention would bring salvation to a team.
So, my sister and I, grew up witnessing my Dad watching every soccer match, religiously. But there was more to it than just relaxing and enjoying the game with a can of beer and popcorn on the side. Something more sacred, that we wouldn’t understand until we left Brazil and returned to the US where my Dad had served in the army during Vietnam.
He was a soccer player. He was a soccer player at “7 de Setembro”, a professional team in his hometown of Belo Horizonte and he continued to be a player in the US Armed Forces soccer team during Vietnam. In that team, he created friendships that are part of his life to this day. Some like Mike, Peter and Arnold he talks to daily. But many team mates in that photo didn’t survive the war. Somehow, my Dad did. Some call it luck. But, me and my sister know better! We call it: soccer.
One day my 7-year-old nephew asked to play soccer. And after his first match the coaches asked my sister: Are you sure he never played before? If they knew our family history, maybe they would understand it.