Sunday, August 30, 2009

"uh, Fernandão!"

Spring sprung early in Porto Alegre. Yay for sunny days in the 80s and my mildly sunburned face! (Yes, I have been using my protetor solar.) I have thoroughly enjoyed the switch—walking miles along the riverfront path and swimming at the club. At four in the afternoon last Thursday (amid a slew of sun-seekers that, like me, seemed to have prioritized properly), I saw a guy riding his bike no-hands. He stretched his arms out wide to either side as he cruised along, basking in the sun and speed. I thought, “Yeah, me too, man.”

While walking to the stadium today for Internacional x Goiás, I came across something I’d never seen before in the park. Watch!


Love it! Men will be boys. Half adventurous fun, half insanity—and entirely entertaining to watch—I stopped for a few moments to marvel at how I never discovered this miniature-motorcycle madness before. Really, they were the mini ones-take a better look:

These little bikes had a lawnmower-type starter pull. If you watch closely, you’ll see that one guy’s bike stalled inside the curve and he had to pull the cord again. For the rest of the chase he was at a half-lap disadvantage. Somehow, I doubt he cared. The manolescents looked like they were having a blast.

Arriving at the stadium I felt the familiar wave of game-day energy. I’ve only been to a couple games over the last four months due to any combination of cold, rain, and late hour of the kickoff. Tonight was the perfect evening to enjoy the madness again; even more so since the opponent was Goiás. First, they are ahead of us in the tabela, the classification of the Campeonato Brasileirão. Second, two stars, Iarley and Fernandão, that used to play for Inter are now playing for Goiás. Yes, that Fernandão. He was our team captain when we beat Barcelona (in the huge upset match) to capture the World Cup 2006. Plus he’s hot. (Well? He is!)

Inter has been maintaining a slot in the top four of the Brasileirão, which is good because those are the automatic qualifiers for next year’s Copa Libertadores. Still, I’ve been feeling lackluster about the season—a feeling which was exacerbated by the recent and disappointing loss of more stars to the European leagues. And when Fernandão returned to the Brazilian club circuit a few weeks ago after a year in Qatar, it looked like he would return to us at Beira-Rio. Clearly, something went amiss and he’s now playing for Goiás—a team which is stacking the deck right now, snatching up players all over the place and creating a startlingly challenging roster.

Fernandão on the far right, wearing the rival’s green and white. (insert sad face.)

So, I felt a bit pensive about the game—not my usual optimistic self. But my team put me (and the nearly full house) at ease with a goal just five minutes in. The entire stadium shouted in camaraderie and sympathy when Fernandão was unfairly expelled just 13 minutes into the first half—though, he was probably a little bit relieved to be out of the awkward position of playing against the team that rocketed his career and 40,000 spectators that admire him, but also consider him “one of us”.

We didn’t have long to contemplate the psychological aspects of the expulsion. The goal at 16 minutes made it 2x0 to Inter. Better still, I was really impressed by the team’s cohesiveness during the rest of the first half—so it was easy to be swept into the merry, cheering energy of the crowd.

Another goal for inter 6 minutes into the second half. And another, just for good measure, in the 35th minute. Internacional 4 x Goiás 0. No complaints. I left the stadium happy—for the win, the good play, the fun crowd, the lingering warm breeze, and the pleasure of a perfect Sunday.