If you read my blog post about high school gym class, you know I’m not a sports kind of person.

Nevertheless, since I moved to Rio de Janeiro I have become a rabid soccer fan. Well, a Brazilian soccer fan, and to be more specific, a Flamengo (aka Mengo, or Mengoooooooooooooo!!!!!) fan…my favorite team.

I’m probably the weirdest soccer fan ever, because I don’t even understand the rules all that well. But I get the general gist of what’s going on, and I have my own way of watching and analyzing the game. For instance, let’s say my team is winning 2-0 and there are only 10 minutes left to play. This actually happened yesterday, and the commentator was complaining that the other team was playing like mad to score, but Flamengo was just playing defensively and not going for the goal. My reaction was, “Well sure, why should they bust their butts trying to get another goal when they already have two and the other team has none and the game is nearly over? They’re better off making sure that the other team doesn’t get any!” Probably not the reasoning of a true (aka knowledgeable) soccer fan, but hey…

What I like about soccer is the dance…the balance, the counterbalance, the slick moves, the focus, the alertness, and the intuition. It isn’t a sport of strength, it’s more about speed and coordination. Even Ronaldinho, my team’s star player, isn’t a big guy…he has skinny arms and sometimes even looks a little, shall I say, “girlish,” and not just because of his ponytail, either. But small and skinny is fine in soccer. Yesterday we had a sub goalie who was skinny as a stick and he hopped around like a jumping bean, never missing a ball…one of the main reasons we won the game.

Ronaldinho Gaúcho

In my neighborhood, you always know when someone made a goal, even if you’re not watching the game, because everybody sticks their head out the window and shouts and yells at the top of their lungs…yep, soccer in Rio is serious business and big time fun.


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