March 13, 2011
Ola, one last time Tribe soccer fans!
The tail end of our stay here in Belo Horizonte has been great. Following a well played 3-0 Tribe victory against one of the Cruzeiro U-17 teams on Friday, we attended a two-hour Portuguese language course. We learned many useful phrases and words to help us with our last few interactions with the local Brazilians. As expected with a team that has a great sense of humor, there were many laughs throughout the lesson. Andy Hinnant and I performed a rather flawless southern twang rendition of a Portuguese dialogue. Following the lesson, the guys relaxed and prepared for another tough match against the Cruzeiro U-17 A squad on Saturday morning.
The final match of our trip was against another U-17 Cruzeiro team. It was a very competitive match. This particular Cruzeiro team featured many of the players who won the National Championship last year. The match ultimately ended in a 2-2 tie. The first Tribe goal came from Chris Perez who provided a terrific free kick from about 20 yards out finding the upper corner. Zach Montebell gave us our second, on a great goal from about 6-10 yards out, placing the ball through the legs of the Cruzeiro keeper. The team looked great once again, despite playing five very challenging matches in a span of six days. Any Tribe soccer fan would be proud to have witnessed our performances here in Brazil.
The game on Saturday had a special spectator on the Tribe's sideline. The United States Ambassador to Brazil, Thomas Shannon Jr., a William and Mary alum, flew in from the capital in Brasilia to watch the match. In addition, he was able to have lunch with the team and sit down to share his experiences and thoughts as an Ambassador. The team had great questions for the Ambassador and we really learned a lot about the very encouraging path Brazil continues follow and Foreign Service opportunities.
Our final few hours here in Brazil on Sunday were spent at the local open-air market. The market was an amazing scene. There were hundreds of stalls throughout the street selling all kinds of clothing, shoes and souvenirs. Everyone was able to find their last minute gifts for family and friends before we leave the country. Many of the guys were able to buy Cruzeiro paraphernalia to show their support for the club back stateside. Before we head to the airport for our flight to Miami, we will attend a Cruzeiro professional match about an hour from our base at Toca I. Following the match we will head straight to the airport and head back stateside.
The level of play we faced here in Brazil was an excellent test for us as a team and gave us a great opportunity to see a very different kind of soccer. It would behoove us to take what we have experienced from Brazilian soccer and find ways to implement it into our game. It is experiences like these that fuel your love for the game of soccer. In addition, visiting another country so far from home provides an opportunity to expand our cultural horizons and observe how other people around the world interact with each other and approach life. I can truly say that this past week was an invaluable experience and I look forward to sharing my experiences here in Brazil with any who are interested.
I'd like to thank you for following Tribe soccer during our 2011 international trip. Without a terrific base of devout fans like we have, this trip would not have been possible. Your participation in fundraising events such as the pancake supper, make wonderful opportunities like this possible. I know that Will and I have enjoyed keeping you all informed on our daily adventures here in Belo Horizonte and the surrounding areas. Go Tribe, and we look forward to your presence at our games in the new and impressive Martin Family Stadium in the fall.
Colin "IT" Smolinsky
March 12, 2011
Hello again Tribe soccer fans!
We continue to enjoy our time here at Cruzeiro Esporte Clube, and in the past few days we've had the chance to experience a lot of Brazilian culture. At 8 am on Thursday, we left Toca 1 to go to Ouro Preto (a very scenic city about 2 hours away). Upon arrival, a tour guide joined our group and remained with us for the duration of our stay. Our first venture of the day was to see the 2nd richest church in all of Brazil. It was an amazing site in which 350 kilos of silver and gold were on display. The church was built in 1711 by some of the richest Portuguese men in Brazil who had come from Rio de Janeiro. To further illustrate the magnitude of wealth, our tour guide mentioned that in the early 1700s, Ouro Preto was a bigger and richer area than New York City. To this day, the city refuses to develop, and it certainly showed through the historical shape and form of the city's architecture.
After touring the Church, we headed to the center of town. Ouro Preto is placed in the center of a mountainous range and offers many beautiful views. When we reached the main strip, our tour guide told us about some of the gold mining history and the university nearby. After taking in the picturesque views, our tour guide led us to a mining museum where we could see all of the different types of rocks/minerals that had been found in the past 300 years. Following our time in the museum, we slowed down to have some lunch and look around some of the side streets. At 2 pm, we began the trip back to Belo Horizonte.
About 30 minutes from Cruzeiro, our bus stopped at a scenic point where we could look over the city of Belo Horizonte. The architecture of the buildings and the design of the city are very different from typical US cities, and it was interesting to view it from a birds-eye view. After taking some pictures, we got back on the bus and headed to Cruzeiro's official merchandise store in the middle of the city. Once we looked at the merchandise and a few guys had splurged, we moved onto the Churrascaria around 6 pm. For those of you who have never been to one, a Churrascaria is a dinner in which multiple different cuts of meat are constantly being offered to you. Needless to say, the team was full up and ready to get some rest for our game at 10 am on Friday.
Friday's game was the first of two against Cruzeiro youth teams. We managed to put forth a great effort against the Cruzeiro U-17s by creating good chances and possessing the ball for the majority of the game. The 3-0 victory was definitely a team effort, but we had three solid finishes from Nick "Ruby" Abrigo, Zack "Sghetti" Monteball, and Stephen "Alfy" Laws. In goal, both Colin "It" Smolinsky and Alex "Jeeves" Harrington were solid. We look forward to a full day on Friday, which includes attending Cruzeiro's top team's practice. Thanks for keeping up and we'll be sure to let you know how the last few days go down here in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
Will "Julie" Smith
March 9, 2011
Hello once again Tribe soccer fans!
We got today off to an early start here in Brazil. After breakfast the team loaded onto a bus and headed out to the Mercado Central in downtown Belo Horizonte. Upon parking the bus, we were immersed in a completely unknown environment. Entering the market, we first walked past a bird store that had just about any bird you could imagine on display. We spent about three hours exploring the massive market and shopping at the various stands. The ride to and from downtown Belo Horizonte was a great opportunity to see more of the city and the splendid landscape of Brazil. The beauty and mystique of Brazil still amazes me whenever we leave the confines of Cruzeiro's Toca da Raposo I.
After returning to our home base and having a quick lunch, we prepared for a game at 3:30 pm. The match was slated against a U-20 Mina's Gerais state team, which was very talented and athletic. The opposition struck early in the game. Their goal came off of a blast from 20 yards out that found it's way to the upper right corner. The Tribe went on to control the game for the majority of the remaining time, but despite a barrage of chances, we were unable to put one in the back of the net. A hard fought game ended 1-0 in favor of the Brazilians. All members of the Tribe put in terrific performances and the games continue to be a very encouraging sign of what is to come next fall.
Tomorrow is looking to be another exciting day here in South America. We will have the day off of organized training or games, and will be up early to head to Ouro Preto. Ouro Preto is a historical city located about an hour from our current location. We will tour the city and have lunch in the city at one of the numerous cafes. Tomorrow evening we will have the opportunity to experience the great taste of Brazilian food, in addition to the great food here at Toca I. We are scheduled to have dinner at a local Churrascaria, which is a steak house that serves unlimited cuts of beef at the table. It is safe to say this is the event I have been most excited for.
The international trip to Brazil has been an awesome experience so far for the Tribe, and luckily we are only half way through! Thanks to all Tribe soccer fans and make sure to check in again soon for further updates on our adventures here in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
March 8, 2011
Hey Tribe soccer fans! After the morning practice on Monday, we had some downtime to prepare for our match with Contagem (a youth club from Minas Gerais). It turned out to be the club's U-18 team, and the competition was not quite what we were expecting. We came out very strongly, and just a few minutes into the game we were leading. Solid performances were put in from every guy on the team, and the result was an 8-0 win.
After our opening game, we had some time to relax and get dinner. At 7 pm we left Cruseiro Esporte Clube and made our way to the city of Macocos. This week is 'Carnaval" throughout Brazil (basically the equivalent of Mardi Gras), and we got the fantastic opportunity to experience the events with the Matacocos locals. It was a great cultural experience, and although Peter "Lloyd" Christmas continued to struggle with his Portuguese, Andrew "Sherman" Hinnant was the center of attention for the majority of the night.
After getting back late Monday night from the festivities, we were given Tuesday morning off. In preparation for our game with a combination of the local club Portuguesa's U-18 and U-20 players at 3 pm, we ate lunch at 12:30 and had a team meeting at 1 pm. The game today was a much more competitive one in which we were better challenged physically and technically. We managed to put together a very good performance, finishing the game with a 3-0 win. John Ciampa, Chris "Tumnus" Perez, and Peter "Lloyd" Christmas made some great contributions on the three goals.
We are thoroughly enjoying our time here at Cruseiro. In the next few days, we will heavily immerse ourselves in the Brazilian culture by going to a street market and attending a professional Futsal match. We look forward to keeping you updated in our endeavors as our time in Brazil continues.
Will "Julie" Smith
March 7, 2011
Hello Tribe soccer fans! I write to you from the beautiful city of Belo Horizonte and the friendly confines of the Cruzeiro Esporte Clube. Upon arrival in Belo Horizonte yesterday morning, we were picked up by a representative of the club and took in our first views of the lush green landscape of Brazil on our way to the teams training facility. Cruzeiro is a top notch Brazilian professional soccer team and provides us with the fields to train right outside of our housing and also play some very competitive matches against their youth teams. Cruzeiro has developed many successful Brazilian super stars, Ronaldo being one I'm sure you have all heard about.
Today we had a short technical training session after breakfast to prepare for a 3:00 pm match against one of the Minas Gerais State U-20 teams. The training and game schedule should be relatively the same each day and with our down time we will experience as much of the Brazilian culture as possible. Interacting with the Brazilian people has already proven to be difficult. As we speak, Peter Christmas is "teaching" himself Portuguese via CD. It seems as if he may become the Tribe's official translator. Meanwhile, we will continue to use plenty of "thumbs-up" and hand gestures.
Given that we are here until Sunday evening, we have several excursions planned into the city of Belo Horizonte and may even add another couple when possible. We plan on making our way to the street market at least once and will be attending one of Cruzeiro's professional matches at the end of the week. In addition, we are attending a professional futsal match and will take advantage of our down time and walk around to explore our local surroundings.
The team looks forward to taking in all that Brazil and Cruzeiro have to offer. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity for most of us to get a taste of what life is like in Brazil. We look forward to a great experience and all the memories that we will make together here in South America. I look forward to keeping all of you Tribe soccer fans up to date, so check in periodically to see what we are up to!
Over and Out.
Colin Smolinsky - "IT"