Day 6: Tuesday 22nd July 2014Another early departure and this one for very worthwhile cause. We’re off to Juiz de Fora a few hours out of Rio de Janeiro for our game against third tier side, Tupi, on Wdnesday. On the way, we’ll be stopping at a charity project in the mountains run by Onda Solidaria, the Children’s Aid charity led by Ricardo, our representative here in Brazil and who helped us get the Brazilian Masters across to Exeter for our centenary in 2004.
Before we go there is the latest coach issue. We sit on it, waiting to go, for 10 minutes. However, the driver can’t select drive. It’s stuck in neutral no matter what is tried. Eventually the age old method works again – turn it off and turn it on again!
The players hand out high-fives at the Onda Solidaria project
We’ve seen bits of Rio and its hustle and bustle but this journey gives us the opportunity to see a bit more of the regular Brazilian life away from the cosmopolitan nature of the huge city.
We travel up into the mountains, giving us spectacular views of the countryside and snapshots of local life as houses and dwellings flash by. The intriguing vista is sadly counterbalanced by the latest snag with the coach. The air con is cold, very cold, even for us poor pasty Brits. It also seems to be recycling the air from the onboard toilet out into the main body of the coach! The vote has gone to putting up with a bit of heat.
Enough of the jesting, the project we see when we arrive really takes you back and things are well and truly put into perspective over the next couple of hours. To help underprivileged children, the plot of land has just been scraped out of the hillside. Dwellings are being built and the land prepared with crops to make things as sustainable and eco-friendly as possible. It will give the kids something. They just have nothing so it’s an immense and exciting opportunity.
A 100-year time capsule is buried with memories of the Grecians and Brazil
We donated items such as a City shirt and wrote a letter to future generations that were ceremonially buried in a time capsule along with things from Children’s Aid. Tis and Taggy did the honours for the club, meeting the local native Indians who were leading the project build the team.
The kids were all over the players, who handled themselves very well. Swamped by kids, when the presentations were over, the balls came out and it was playtime. The universal language of football. You have nothing in life but a football is all you need to put a smile on your face.
Players and hosts at the project
With kids hanging off them, the players couldn’t help to be affected. For the younger ones, it was a real eye-opener to just how lucky we are in Britain and how different things are in other countries. If you have nothing, in general you have someone who will support you. In Brazil it seems there is nothing.
Project visit turns into skill school
For the older ones with kids, they see and compare with their own kids and thank their lucky stars. Everyone has to be dragged off the mountain – players and kids. I can’t do it justice in words, I’m just not good enough but it was a humbling morning for us all and we wouldn’t have changed it for the world.
Matt Oakley talking tactics, possibly
A quieter and reflective lunch and we headed into Juiz de Fora. The players went training and the rest of us caught up with business at our hotel. We’ve internet and hot water and, after our experiences today, maybe feel a little guilty about that.
Day 1 – Destination: Rio
Day 2 – Heathrow–Frankfurt–Rio–Xerem
Day 3 – Flying into the centenary match
Day 4 – 100 years in the making
Day 5 – A day of rest