Jul
23
2007
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Brazilian football 2

A bucolic scene
For most, the long road to success will usually start at a peneira (literally meaning sieve), organized by a professional club such as Fluminense. “Flu”, the club former FIFA President Joao Havelange supported and represented in various sports including junior level football, have their youth development centre in the village of Xerem, picturesquely located at the base of the jungle-covered mountains, which rise from Brazil’s south-eastern coastline.
We recently witnessed a typical paneira organized by the club. Around 50 boys turned up and were separated according to age and size. Two technical observers – less formally known as ?olheiros’ (watchers) – took their names and then hounded out vests, telling them which team and position they would play in. anxious parents look on from the trees under the sides of the pitch while passers-by watch from the road.
Although, it is a bucolic scene, for the youngsters and their parents it is a chance to break away form the daily grind and emulate success stories such as Marcelo and midfielder Carlos Alberto, who won the UEFA Champions League with Porto in 2004 and has now returned to the club via Corinthians.
Anyone can enroll – the chubby kid wearing the number 11 shirt and the goalkeeper who lets in four easy goals in a ten-minute spell do not appear to be future Brazil material – but it is a long shot. Only one player who truly stands out in the crowd (one Fluminense youth player told us he scored 13 goals in the three peneiras before being invited back) will be invited to return and he will then have to prove himself in at least two more peneiras before being given the chance to join one of Fluminense’s youth teams. Only one of the boys who took part in the matches was invited to return.
Persistence is often needed. Brazil’s 2002 World Cup winner Cafu, who went on to make a record-breaking 149 caps, went through nine peneiras at various clubs before finally being accepted by Sao Paolo.