Friday, May 31, 2013

3 on 3 - São Paulo

This weekend we visited the Parque da Juventude (Youthfulness Park) in the north part of the city. We drove, but there is a metro station nearby. I highly recommend parking in the private lot just before the main entrance--the park is surrounded by some interesting neighbors including a women's prison.

Sunday was a gorgeous cool sunny day and the park was filled with people lying on the grass, walking their dogs, and waiting for the free concert later in the afternoon. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the park also hosts the Biblioteca de São Paulo, certainly one of the best libraries I have ever seen.

At the far end of the park were three concrete soccer "fields", two tennis courts and a volleyball court. All were in full use, with people on the sidelines patiently waiting for their turns. As we passed by the last soccer field, we heard the noise from the basketball courts--cheering, laughter, music and an announcer. As we walked closer, we could see that all four courts had sizable crowds, an ice cream man waiting for the right moment, and various teams waiting on the sidelines. It turned out to be a 3-on-3 tournament. One court had a women's game going on, the second, younger teenage girls, and the third was being used for free-throw training. But it was the fourth court that grabbed our attention. It was wheelchair basketball--we caught the end of one game and were just amazed by the skills of these athletes. In fact, these guys make it look easy. So of course, some of the non-wheelchair athletes accepted a challenge to try out wheelchair basketball.

Three tall young men were strapped into the chairs and the game was on. Within one minute, the tallest of them had gone over backwards in the chair and was lying like a beetle with all its legs in the air. They righted him and then the game continued. The wheelchair athletes (the real ones) scored countless points while the others zoomed around crashing into each other as they tried to figure out how to defend, shoot and maneuver the chair at the same time. At the end of the game, there was much laughter and back-slapping. What a lovely urban park scene.

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