Getting to Brazil from Johannesburg, is a 16-hour flight and then staying in Rio de Janeiro for 6 weeks is a great deal of a holiday if you are not at the Brazilian Football Academy for an Advanced International Diploma on Modern Brazilian Football For Foreign Coaches and Trainers. The BFA was founded by former FIFA President, Joao Havelange, who is currently the Honorary President of both.
This sojourn took place between October and December 1999. In the southern beaches of Rio de Janeiro, 5 minutes drive from what was then the biggest shopping mall in the world, Barra, and not far away from the F1 Racing circuit, was the Brazilian Football Academy. The academy trained over 3000 coaches throughout the world and a few football clubs, mostly from Japan, Jamaica, Tanzania and Ghana, were hand-made here.
The Director of BFA is the revered Professor Espezim Neto (then FIFA Member). The Academy instructors, who are stakeholders and founding lecturers, were high level coaches of note. Well known of the lot were Professor Julio Ceaser Leal, an astute tactician of all time, Professor Paifer Lula, gifted with tremendous technique for his age, Professor Waltinho and Botafogo goalkeeping coach, Professor Robinson as well and Professor Carlos Lancetta for physical conditioning, and the most famous 1994 World Cup winner, Professor Carlos Alberto Pereira.
The academy grounds were a 20 minutes drive away from the academy hotel. Classes started as early as 7:00 am to about 11:30 midnight. Often, it began by going to the fields to do practicals, first by ourselves and then Botafogo academy players were available for our use. There is regular visits to the Fluminense academy, Botafogo, Flamengo and Vasco da Gama team training sessions. Every 4 days there will be a league match which, like all other visits everywhere there will be a task or an assignment as individuals or pairs.
It would be either looking at the attacking, midfield or defensive behaviour of teams. Tactical situations to observe included kick-off, free-kicks, corner-kicks, throw-ins and individual behaviours of players in particular roles. Visits to Maracana are always special as you would expect. Once in a while you get to do dressing room management skills. During the course period, there will be 2 free days to roam the famous Copacabana beach, visiting the Sugar Loaf Mountain, and other places of interest. Of course one afternoon off a week to rewind will be given and the walk on the beach is like ‘wow!’.
Anyway, Brazilian football is done at university level, almost the same level the High Performance Centre in Pretoria tries to do it. Football players undergo physical and tactical tests for their teams and the national squad. All statistical data counts and is factored in. Courses in Brazil can be ordinary affairs. It becomes very necessary to learn what they teach and much more critical to learn what they are not saying. They have a lot of secretive football elements that you have to desifer.
Given the rich its footballing culture and history, is Brazilian football actually the best in the world?