Monday September 20, 2010
Youngsters eat, breathe and sleep Brazilian football
By Y.P. SIVAM
Five Malaysian youngsters were on cloud nine when they set foot at Teresopolis in Brazil.
Despite a tiring 24-hour flight, from Kuala Lumpur via Singapore, Doha, Sao Paulo and finally Rio de Janerio, the five — Mohamad Ali Mahat, Afif Najui Muhamad Izwan, Mohd Shahnuriman Hamid, Muhammad Sheqal Salim and Abdul Rahman Satuki — had reason to feel on top of the world.
After all, Teresopolis is a quiet town, about 900m above sea level and about an hour drive from Rio de Janerio.
So what is so special about this town?
It is where Granja Comary, where Brazil’s football teams — men and women — train for international assignments, is located.
If the five Malaysians had thoughts that their 10-day trip was going to be a holiday on the sandy beaches of Copacabana, then they were wrong.
They were given an insight into Brazilian football. They had the chance to train at Granja Comary which has four football pitches.
Wilson Junior, who had played for Flamengo’s Under-20 team, was the head coach. His assistants were Luiz Carlos and Marcelo Vidal. All three are from Top Training and Brazil Football Confederation (CBF) certified coaches.
There was a surprise for not only the Malaysian players but also their counterparts from Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore.
Junior divided them into four groups. After a training session where the players were tested with balls of different sizes which included table tennis and tennis balls.
Junior, who has about 20 years experience in coaching at junior development programmes, said he was keen to see the players’ skills.
The participants of the coaching programme were given the opportunity to visit the two-storey building where the Brazilian players stay during centralised training.
The building has an administrative office, dining hall, medical room, swimming pool and futsal court.
Mohamad Ali, a Sport Science student at the UiTM in Shah Alam, speaking on behalf his teammates, said they were impressed with the facilities at Granja Comary.
“It was a chance of a lifetime and we will cherish the moments at this hostoric place.
“This is the same place Brazil’s top football players train. Training here was beyond our dreams but we want to thank Nike Malaysia for making it a reality,’’ said Mohamad Ali. who is also a national futsal player.
The five Malaysians, calling themselves Enjoy FC, had earned their tickets to Rio de Janerio after becoming the champions in the Under-19 category of the Nike Cup in Kuala Lumpur in July.
After their experience at Granja Comary, the participants returned to Rio de Janerio, where they stayed at a hotel facing the famous Copacabana beach.
It was another half-day training programme. This time in a football field — in Brazil, it is called society football and it is played on a small field, one third the size of a normal field. The players were put through a series of skills exercises — dribbling, passing and shooting drills.
The players also had the chance to watch a Brazilian League match between Botafago and Atletico Minerio at the Joao Havelange Stadium. Botafago supporters flooded the stadium and created a carnival atmosphere.
Shahnuriman, Syeqal, Afif, Mohamad Ali and Rahman were all given very special access to welcome the Botafogo players at the VIP entrance before the start of the match.
The following morning, the players, from the four countries, were given an insight on beach football. Beach football, according to Junior, is Brazil’s trademark.
“Almost everyone involved in football in Brazil plays on the beach. In fact, playing on different turfs makes them better. The players have to be versatile and capable of playing in any position. Futsal and beach football develop the players into complete players,’’ said Junior.
Junior was impressed with the Malaysian players and said they were technically accomplished in futsal.
“They had the techniques and tactics as well as dribbling skills. They paid attention and had better co-ordination.’’
On the last day, Junior picked Malaysia’s Mohamad Ali as the Best Player among the participants.