Senda Ambassadors: Juliano in Brazil, doing pro tryouts with Portuguesa

At Senda, one of the things we enjoyed the most is to hear stories from Senda Ambassadors and share their passion for the beautiful game, Fair Trade, and suing soccer as a vehicle for change. They often times send us their reflections on the trip, and we want to share the latest one, from our latest ambassador in Brazil: Juliano.

Here is the story he shared with us, and our readers:

”After graduating from Vassar College in the spring, I took a flight to Brazil to pursue my dream of playing professional soccer. The past few months have been a humbling experience, and I’ve learned so much about the world of soccer. I spent two months training with Portuguesa, a second division club in Brazil. The club has a rich history, starting with the Portuguese who founded the club many years ago. They’ve grown to be one of the biggest, most well-known clubs in São Paulo, with a strong reputation for developing young players. I could write extensively about my experiences at Portuguesa, but there’s one humbling experience that stands out in my mind: the bus rides to training. Each morning we met at the club’s headquarters at 7:30 AM to get changed and take a bus to the training fields. The drive to the fields takes about 25 minutes, but the last five minutes were always the most important to me.

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The scenery was a daily reminder that the privileged world many of us live in isn’t the reality for millions of people; it was a reminder that poverty is real. Perhaps most remarkable was the paintings and decorations of Brazil’s colors on the streets left over from the World Cup. While the people of the favelas might be living in a lower social class, their love for the beautiful game of soccer is as vehement as mine. Once again I was able to understand the true power of soccer to bring together an entire nation. As a long time supporter of Senda, I told my teammates at Portuguesa about Senda’s mission.

I explained to them the idea of fair trade, ‘comerço justo’ in Portuguese, an idea that isn’t well known as a commercial concept in Brazil. They reacted in overwhelming support. One of them told me, “Soccer in Brazil is a nasty business, constantly exploiting people. I support any movement to stop the exploitation and money mongering that exists in the soccer world today.” After Brazil’s heartbreaking 7-1 World Cup loss at home to Germany, the main dialogue has been a discussion about reshaping the Brazilian soccer system. The goals are to develop players for domestic play, and keeping and circulating money and resources through the Brazilian system, rather than shipping it off to Europe.  

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My time spent as part of the soccer world here in Brazil has been an incredible insight into the world of soccer outside the U.S.A. The rich culture of soccer has so much influence on people’s lives, and Senda allows us the opportunity to explore that mechanism, to change people’s lives for the better. I am currently still in Brazil, looking for opportunities to play professionally.”

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