Coen Lammers: Why is Brazil so good?

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If it came down to the state of the football pitches, number of coaches and club structure, even the All Whites should play Brazil off the park. Photo / Coen Lammers
If it came down to the state of the football pitches, number of coaches and club structure, even the All Whites should play Brazil off the park. Photo / Coen Lammers

Brazil is the most successful nation in the history of the World Cup. Even if the Germans manage to spoil the party tomorrow and end up winning the trophy, the samba boys will have more titles than any other nation.

Proud locals often remind you that the five stars on the shirt represent five world titles. Italy are the next in line with four titles and then Germany with three.

Having spent a few weeks in Brazil it seems incredible that the South Americans have been such a dominant force.

Brazil and its football lack the structure, coaches, facilities and finances that other top countries consider a basic requirement.

If it came down to the state of the football pitches, number of coaches and club structure, even the All Whites should play Brazil off the park.

Sadly we know that reality is a bit different.

Young footballers in New Zealand are part of a nationally developed training programme from their earliest years and start playing competitive games against other clubs when they are seven or eight years old. From there, clubs select their best players for the top grades and this system carries on at a regional and eventually national age-group level.

It was surprise to find out that Brazilian football has none of these structures.

You will find no sport parks on a Saturday morning crammed with hundreds of little players in nice strips with coaches and parents, as we see all over New Zealand.

There simply are no competitions for young children, or even organised social grades for seniors as we are used to.

Instead, Brazilian football is based around the pelada, which is a generic term for a variety of matches, from a social kickaround to more serious matches between unaffiliated group of friends.

This can be on the beach or the local dirt pitches that you can find you in every neighbourhood and village around Brazil.

Don't expect the beautifully our lush green grounds, mostly often small dirt patches, or concrete blocks, with rusting goalposts and no markings.

However, that doesn't stop the locals from having fiercely competitive encounters, at any time of the day.

Brazil has hundreds of professional clubs, and some are among the best in the world, but they do not fulfil the social role of our amateurs clubs.

Like the numerous private football schools, clubs recruit youngsters from the dirt patches, and train them until they are ready for a representative youth team.

For those that don't make the top grade, there is no B-team, just the option to be farmed out to a lower-grade professional club or go back to the neighbourhood pelada.

And if the lack of structure through the age-groups is not enough, Brazil and its footballers are furthered hampered by corruption, nepotism and bribery.

It truly seems a miracle, the yellow shirts have been so good for so long.

Just imagine how good they would be if they truly got organised and in place an efficient national training and scouting structure like Germany or the Netherlands.

Or maybe we just got it all wrong and should abandon clubs and coaches and all just grab a ball and head to the beach or nearest park.

It seems to work in Brazil.

Correction: An earlier version of this comment piece stated that Italy have won three World Cup titles when they have in fact won four (1934, 1938, 1982, 2006).

- Coen Lammers in Sao Paulo

- NZ Herald

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