On April 18th, a football milestone is going to take place in the city of Sorocaba, State of São Paulo, Brazil. The first full-pad football tournament is going to be held, with All-States teams fighting each other out in what should be one very exciting weekend.
But wait, one thing at a time: don't you mean soccer?! How did this happen?
The headline is “Football in Brazil. Wait, don’t you mean soccer?!” I know. We’re all asking ourselves, is there really American Football in Brazil??
So let’s go to the beginning. In 1986, about 20 people who shared great passion for the game, started playing American football in Rio de Janeiro. However, instantaneously, they faced enormous challenges, almost all related to the lack of the proper equipment (all those guys could find were footballs and mouthguards), as the sport was absolutely unknown there.
In the face of that, those 20 friends started playing in Copacabana Beach. That choice of location ended up being what made it possible for the sport to grow in Brazil. Copacabana Beach is a very visible place in Rio, and as opposed to back then, after 20 years there were over 700 amateur athletes registered in the Brazilian American Football Association (yes, there is one!).
Back in 2000, the level of organization began to rise, as the Carioca championship (the final game is called “Carioca Bowl”) was first organized. The tournament was played on the beach, with some rules being adapted to make the transition to the beach possible.
On top of that, the players used no protection but mouthguards, which shows not only immense passion for the game, but also a lot of courage (or craziness, depending on how you look at it). Since then, eight more championships have been played in Rio, with eight more Carioca Bowls.
While Rio made the transition to the beach, other States in the south of Brazil went right to the turf, without pads. As time passed, more teams surged all around the country and today football is arguably the fastest growing sport in Brazil.
On October 25, 2008, there was another milestone for Brazilian Football: the country's first full-pad game. The game was played between the Curitiba Brown Spiders and the Barigui Crocodiles in the city of Curitiba, in the south of the country. Since that game, all the teams in Brazil are moving towards acquiring equipment and suiting up to play on turf, the way it is played in America.
So, back to the question asked: YES, there is American football in Brazil, or at least it’s starting to. Amazing, isn’t it? This just goes to show how big football really is. Not only are people playing it in Brazil, but also in Argentina, Uruguay, and many other European and Asian Countries.
Only time will tell if this is simply a fad or if the sport is here to stay.