This June, Dean of Faculty John Taylor, Spanish teacher Stephen Taft, faculty spouse John Friends and a friend of Mr. Friends will travel to Brazil for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The group of four has played on an indoor soccer team for multiple years, and they decided that this summer it would be fun to explore the “rich soccer history” as well as the fascinating culture of Brazil.
There has been some speculation as to whether Brazil is prepared for the World Cup, however, with unfinished stadiums and poor living conditions for many of the nation’s citizens. Brazilian Deerfield student Lucas Tupinamba ’16 commented, “Brazil isn’t ready: the government has been spending millions of dollars on stadiums and infrastructure in the cities, and that has lead to enormous controversy. When you have a government that is spending all its money on stadiums and not on public health it creates an issue. People have been going out on the streets and advocating a boycott of the World Cup.”
Mr. Friends, who studied as an exchange student in Brazil in high school, has kept in close touch with his host family and other friends, who will all provide support and guidance for the four footballers throughout their travels in Brazil.
Mr. Friends was able to invite his host brother, now a 25-year old, to stay with him and his family in McAlister Dormitory eight years ago, during the time that FIFA announced the 2014 World Cup would be held in Rio. The announcement sparked the idea for the four soccer fans to make the trip this June.
They will spend almost two weeks in Brazil, attending one or two games of “football” as well as travelling to Belo Horizonte, the capital city in Mina Gerais. In Belo Horizonte, they will cycle down the Estrada Real, or “Royal Road,” which is a colonial road made famous by its estimated 10% of the most valuable minerals in the world (before extensive extraction), and continues to be an important mining region. When gold was discovered in Brazil, the road was built connecting to Rio in order to transport the gold, and now remains public for citizens and tourists.
“Our goal is to follow the Royal Road and to hang out with some locals in towns,” Mr. Taylor said. Mr. Friends added that his favorite place is an underground waterfall in Brazil, and he promises, as he knows the region well, that he will lead the group to see it.
Mr. Taylor admitted that he has a biased prediction for the winner of the World Cup: he has promised to buy the last dinner for the group because, “Argentina will win!” Mr. Taylor also mentioned that the group plans to ostracize him because he will be sporting his national Argentine shirt throughout the trip, despite the fact that Brazil’s biggest rival is Argentina.
Mr. Taft, on the other hand, predicted the four semi-finalists in the team pool last World Cup, and claimed, “So I will obviously be the right one again.”