Thursday, May 29, 2014

Another reason to cheer - São Paulo

2002 World Cup Team. Cafu to the right in the back, Lucio number 3 next to him

So, today I was at my usual weekly Reading Mum volunteer role at my kids' English language school in São Paulo. The Year 1 students (all around 6 years old) read to me one at a time--a short book in English. I correct pronunciation or get them back on track when they get distracted by stroppy stepsisters. This morning, about five kids into the stack of books, the Year 1 classrooms started to explode with energy. I mean more than every other single day of the year. People kept saying "Lúcio, Lúcio" and I thought to myself, huh, that name sounds vaguely familiar. 

There is a reason for that. Lúcio is a 36-year old Palmeiras player (he joined in January) and has played for seven teams total (I did not know this of course; he told us when questioned) including the Brazilian World Cup team of 2002. And that was a year that Brazil won (even I knew that one!). He had his World Cup medal with him, and a special World Cup replica trophy that only World Cup winners get from an Italian sculptor. 

A World Cup trophy in amongst the plastic water bottles and ABCs

I of course could not resist. When all the little kids filed into the classroom to meet Lúcio, I went too. I had some tiny bit of right to be there as I read with Lúcio's daughter last term. For obvious reasons, I will not be telling you her name, show her photo or mention which school she attends. All I can tell you is that this cute little girl just radiated happy pride and love when her father walked in. 

Lúcio, and all I'm going to show you of his daughter--with her hand on his leg.

Just like any other parent coming to tell about his/her career, Lúcio talked about his. He answered questions about how many soccer cleats he had owned in his life, who was the best player in the world, which was his favorite club team, how many times someone had kicked a goal over his head. He answered all the questions with a smile (and in Portuguese, by the way) and with quiet confidence. It is impossible not to like him. Seriously, I dare you.

Lúcio had come from yesterday's loss 600 km away, flying in this morning, and coming directly to the school. I loved how he made his daughter a priority when he could. And what I mean by this is that if you think about these players, you think about how much money they make, how egotistical they are, how space alien-like they are (but I will stop talking about Cristiano Ronaldo soon). What you don't see behind them is their families.

Now I don't know Lúcio but let's just imagine how his life is. Especially in the twilight of his playing career. He won a World Cup in 2002, he was the captain of the team in 2006, and played as well in 2010 for coach Dunga, his hero. And in between all this he played for several European teams as well as several here in Brazil. When approached to leave Brazil last year to play again in Europe, he refused. He wanted to stay in Brazil. 

And when I watched his daughter, I understood it. His wife Dione was there too--together they have 3 kids. And these three kids and his wife get left behind when the team trains for the big games, for the travel all over the country and world and at the late night games, they are surely all asleep. I forget how many games these guys play in a year but it's unbelievable! 

When I sit with a kid to read, it doesn't occur to me what happens at their homes at night. Some go to bed without mom or dad around a lot of the time. And that makes me sad. And it must make the parent sad too.

Now Lúcio is not going to the World Cup this year. Okay, he is probably going but he is not playing. He will watch his compatriots go for the gold--and I hope he watches those games from home with his wife and three kids. And he will know the cost to players and to their families of all of the training, all of the stress and all of millions of harsh words that are leveled at the players that they must ignore.

We can't forget in the middle of all this corruption and protests and FIFA-hating and Dilma-hating, there are 11 men on the field, and 12 more on the bench, who have lived entire lives for this World Cup. And they have sacrificed--even Cristiano Ronaldo who I love to hate has had to give up "normal" life for "national service" and his own dreams. And some of them are happy with that for a while...a long while... but I'm guessing that it weighs on all of them. 

So cheer for the players. Especially the ones you have never heard of and who don't make 8000000 billion on sports ads and drinks. They are giving up some of themselves for us, the spectators. 

Another reason to cheer. If not for Lúcio this time, for the others who come after.

Yeah it's dark...but here's me and Lucio..

No comments:

Post a Comment