Thursday, September 25, 2008

We've Arrived

One overnight flight later and we've touched down in Rio de Janeiro. The trip went smoothly, and the guys passed the time on the plane by watching movies and sleeping. Coach Tozer also passed around his copy of the team's game against Japan from two weeks ago, which most of the team got to look at for the first time.
We landed in the Rio de Janeiro airport and collected our bags before getting on the team bus. The team hotel was a bit of a drive away, so we settled in for a nap or a good long look out the window, depending on your choice.

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Driving through Rio you can see how soccer permeates everyday life in Brazil. Soccer fields are everywhere, of all different shapes and sizes. You can see an outdoor field and on the next block, a dirt pitch. Anything can serve as a pitch for football - just put some goals up and get after it.

The local kids were doing just that, and we drove by numerous pick up games on our way to the hotel. It was 8:30 am, but neither the early hour nor any apparent school commitments were stopping these kids from kicking the ball around.

We drove by some professional stadiums as well, including the famous Maracanã. We could just see the famous ground off in the distance, but couldn't make out the Maracanãzinho beside it. Known as "the litle Maracanã," it is a gymnasium adjacent to its bigger brother and is the venue for the FIFA Futsal World Cup in Rio.

Before heading into a huge tunnel, the bus got a good look at the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue perched atop Corcovado mountain. No word on whether we'll be able to get up the mountain for a closer look, but hopefully we'll find some time to go take a few pictures.Getting closer to our hotel we drove by the Gávea Stadium (above). It's the home of storied Brazilian club, Flamengo, but is rarely used anymore these days as the team prefers to play most of their home games at the Maracanã.

Soon after we arrived at the hotel and the guys are currently getting situated in their rooms before lunch. We've got a training session this afternoon but surely there will be some naps taken in he meantime. For now, you can do a lot worse than this view from your hotel balcony...

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