"Preach the gospel at all times; if necessary, use words." Saint Francis of Assisi

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Adriano Gabiru

This is a picture (sorry for the blurry quality....sometimes our camera goes on vacation) of our kids and some of their friends with Adriano Gabiru. We ran into him at the airport on Saturday and we asked if we could take a picture. He was very nice.I know, I know......who is Adriano Gabiru? He scored the winning goal for our favorite soccer team, Internacional, (http://www.internacional.com.br/) in the 2006 FIFA Club World Cup (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FIFA_Club_World_Cup_2006). I know, I know.....what is the FIFA Club World Cup? It is literally a tournament of all the best clubs in all the world who play an elimination tournament with the winners going to Japan every December to see who really is the best. Up until a couple of years ago it was the best team from S. America against the best team from Europe because these typically have the best teams in the world. It was recently changed to include the best teams from the rest of the world (Africa, Asia, etc.). The team from S. America and the team from Europe are always put in different brackets in this tournament because, like I said, they are typically the best and everyone wants to see those two teams in the final. Since the change, it has continued to be those two teams in the final.

In 2006 Bronwyn and I (and Garrett for a few) went to every home game of the Libertadores (the S. American championship) that Internacional played in. The championship game was something I have never seen anything like and I've been blessed to see to a few games(Final Four semi-final and championship game, Sugar Bowl, Tennessee Volunteer football games, MLB games, etc.). Unless you've been a part of something like Brasilian soccer in a big tournament, you can't possibly understand the atmosphere. It's something Bronwyn and I won't ever forget. In the S. American finals that year we beat São Paulo. They are always one of the best teams in S. America and were defending world champions when we played them.

Internacional then went to Japan and made it to the finals against, at that time, the best team in the world. Barcelona. What made it worse was that their best player used to play for our most hated rival here in Porto Alegre.....Gremio. If they won we would never and I mean NEVER hear the end of it. Alabama-Auburn football, Michigan-Ohio State football, Yankess-Red Sox......go ahead and think of whatever rivalry you want to and it won't compare to the rivalry between Inter-Gremio. Barcelona's team was full of players who also played for their country's national teams. Most of Inter's players were born and raised in our state or, at least our country. It would be a true David vs. Goliath game. It was definitely an uphill battle but like one of our brothers said before the game, "With God nothing is impossible!" Here is what happened:

Go back and look at the end again. The fans in the street that were shown were on a street that is 2 blocks away from our old apartment. It's where Inter fans hang out after a game. On the day of that game, the city shut down this normally very busy street and put up a big screen T.V. on an overpass. It was 90+ degrees that day and still 30,000 people lined that street to watch the game together.

My family was in another, very small, town with Benay's parents when the game took place. We watched it in our hotel and when we scored, we screamed and jumped around so loudly that Anderson started crying. We felt bad but passed him off to Benay and we kept celebrating as other Inter fans ran up and down the halls screaming. We then went out on the main street in this little town and were met with this:

And this:

Here is one of their cutest, biggest fans celebrating after the game:

Before we moved here I had never seen a soccer game. In fact, I grew up making fun of soccer and those that played it. I repent of my sins. It is now my favorite sport to watch. No one is in better physical condition than soccer players and once you learn the sport it really is, as it's called, "The Beautiful Sport."

I also repent of my Americanism of thinking that our World Series is truly a "world" tournament, that my beloved 'world champion' Chicago Bulls (who didn't love Jordan and Pippen?)were the champions of the world, not just the United States, and that our Super Bowl watched by 400 million people is something special when 4-5 billion people watch the World Cup of soccer. It's been a great learning experience for me to discover what the rest of the world already knows. Soccer is the world's sport and it is for a reason.

Here is another video of some still shots along with a local announcer of the goal. I realize most of you can't understand but just sit back and enjoy the emotion of what just happened.

I don't know if I will ever be a part of a sports experience that is more fun than what we saw in 2006. Bronwyn and I were very blessed to be a part of every step on our way to the World Championship. Thank you Adriano!

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