I've waited 40 years of my life to stand in a football arena in Rio, arms outstretched, with thousands of local supporters going beserk around me to scream that!
The moment was well worth the wait.
One cannot travel to Rio without experiencing Brazil's number one passion, football. There's a saying that my father often used to describe Rugby Union, "Rugby is not a matter of life and death son, it's far more important than that!". For just about every Brazilian this rings true for football. It's such an important part of the cultural psyche that to undervalue it, would be akin to renouncing your Brazilian heritage.
I might not be Brazilian by birth, but having grown up playing 'soccer', as we call it down under, I have a complete appreciation of the skill of the game and Brazil has produced some of the finest players the world has ever seen. Careca, Clodoaldo, Garrincha, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and perhaps the greatest player of all time, Pele. So how could I pass up the opportunity to go and watch some of Brazil's next generation of stars, particularly with the 2014 Football World Cup just around the corner.
This was a chance to witness two of the fiercest of rival Rio teams, Fluminense vs Vasco. In a stadium that holds roughly 40,000 there might have been 15,000 present at this game. It was after all a practice match and during carnival, which is rare event as we were told by the Vasco supporters we were sitting with. It might as well have been full capacity because the noise these fans made was incredible. I've been to packed Australian stadiums that hold 80,000 and this crowd made them sound like a theatre audience at My Fair Lady.
To be honest, I spent more time watching the crowd than I did the game. Every wayward tackle, every missed attempt at goal was met by roars of disbelief as if en masse the supporters from each club were told that Carnaval was to be replaced by a knitting convention. I dont speak Portuguese, but I know when someones mother is being referred to inappropriately, and for those that do speak it and can lip read, you'll pick up all manner of not so niceties in this video.
However this is football, this is passion personified and this is an experience that everyone who steps foot in this beautiful country should embarce. You don't need to love the game, you just need be someone who appreciates life, lived at full volume.
Looking for more info on Rio or Carnaval?
Get some local intel - If you have any questions about travelling to Rio, feel free to hit up our Ask A Nomad community here or check out Triptrotters.
Concerned about safety in Brazil? - Check out our travel safety articles on how to stay safe when travelling to Brazil and stay covered with our travel insurance.
Looking to book for local festivals and events? - Check out Be A Local , they were great in getting us tickets to the football.
Thinking about where to stay in Rio? - We had fantastic assistance from the crew at AirBnB who helped set us up with an excellent pad.
Looking to give back when you travel? - Check out International Volunteer HQ , who have some great projects running on the ground in Brazil.
About the Brazil team
Chris Noble is the General Manager of WorldNomads.com and will forever be grateful for the opportunity to have witnessed football at its finest and may just change his name to Nobleinho (if he could play, which he cant).
This film was directed, shot and edited as part of our Brazil series by the very talented nomad Brian Rapsey.
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