17 May 13
Harlequins has confirmed an exciting group of pre-season fixtures as it prepares for the start of the 2013-14 season.
So here we are, in the amazing country that is Brazil and we are all raring to get going. This is my first blog and if you're reading this I hope you follow mine and Adrian's adventures here and are maybe a little inspired by our sport in developing rugby countries! We all know Brazil as a proud football nation, and why not? They are through and through champions, but let me ask you, and indeed them this; with all that athletic and sporting ability to spare, why not apply it elsewhere? With the 2016 Olympics at the front of the Brazilian Sporting agenda and the debut of Rugby 7s this question has indeed arisen and thus, here we are!
Let's start from the beginning, as Adrian explained in his blog, we are 12 coaches deployed as the vehicle put together via a partnership of Premiership Rugby, British Council and SESI, a company that looks after the welfare of industry workers in terms of health, culture, education and sport. We have been individually deployed at SESI Units across the state of Sao Paulo which are, in layman's terms, a school and a leisure centre built together. In these units we will deliver rugby to children attending the school aged from 6 - 17, people from outside the school such as after school clubs and volunteers. We will also provide education to those teachers who are passionate about rugby on how and what to coach. All of this is in order for us to leave a legacy here on our return to the UK, hopefully providing areas of sustainable rugby growth and development.
So that's the aim of this project in its simplest form and one week in I am beginning to really understand the scale of the operation. We hit the tarmac last Monday and were immediately shown around an outstanding facility in Sao Paulo City, all the teachers were keen to say hello and seem very passionate and driven by the project. After this everything happened really quickly - we were in full on press conferences before we knew it, having lunch (Almoço in Brazilian Portuguese) with Directors, and being invited to bars and football games by some very important people. The beer was cold, the game was surprisingly enjoyable for kiss ball and the people are friendlier than you can imagine. After all the excitement of Sao Paulo, we were deployed to our cities and the fun just kept on coming. Myself and another of the coaches joined up for the weekend and we travelled around the local area of our cities seeing waterfalls and lakes, enjoying a beer in the sun and great company. On two occasions we were invited into the homes of some of the SESI workers, and on both occasions enjoyed fantastic food, fantastic company and fantastic camprinias, the national drink. Not to mention a massive BBQ at Sumare, one of the units where we were able to get some of the SESI coordinators and directors into a game of touch; it was great fun and they all had a smile on their face after the game, which as we all know, is the most important purpose of rugby!
Yesterday I finally got to visit my unit! Oh wow!! The size of this place is unreal, massive pools, huge gyms and unbelievable facilities. There is a reason the Brazilians are fit and athletic people. The kids themselves were massively excited to see me and seem keen to all get involved in playing the game. My full planned delivery does not start until October, giving us the time to learn more of the language and soak up the sporting culture, but my hands are twitching and there is a new bag of balls waiting to be used! As you're reading this I am probably sitting in a warm office with a cool breeze planning and designing some workshops and taster programmes for the next few weeks - I'll be sure to let you know how it goes. Also, if anyone has some fun games they think would work well out here, taking into account my poor Portuguese, drop them in and be part of the project, it is going to take off and we are going to be there all the way!