A World Cup Experience

Current SMBA ’15 student Armaan Ahluwalia traveled to Brazil for a World Cup soccer game, experiencing the country, city and the excitement surrounding the World Cup.

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If an opportunity presents itself, take it .

I was given the opportunity to experience a lifelong dream of mine, to visit Brazil – and it was amazing. The experiences I had in Brasilia were unique because it is a continent I had never visited, I didn’t speak the language and the culture norms were different in so many ways than what I was used to in North America.  With all the differences it allowed me to fully commit to world cup sponsor Adidas’s phrase #Allin.

Brazilians are extremely friendly people, Daniel a SMBA ‘15 classmate is a prime example of that. The people are very happy, excited and friendly to those visiting. They are also very patient when you are trying to speak Portuguese and most even know a fair bit of English.

Armaan Brazil

After the rest of my group arrived in Brazil, I was able to explore the surrounding area. For those that have never been to Brasilia, it was designed almost like a plane. Basically there is the middle or the body of the plane and two wings creating parts of the city known as the north and south wings. All of the main attractions are along the main part of the city and it makes it easy to do the tourist sightseeing, the architecture is fantastic and it feels like the city was meant to be symmetrical as most buildings across the main street look extremely similar.

Game days in Brazil are very much like American football in the U.S., but on another level. Brazil was in a knockout game against a South American opponent, which created an atmosphere that cannot be replicated. My friends and I went to a bar recommended by locals we met while earlier in the day. The bar was packed with a band playing, people dancing and it was a sea of yellow Brazil jerseys. The home country victory sent the bar, city and country into a frenzy – it was great to feel a part of that passion.

I had tickets to the following day’s game with Argentina taking on Belgium at Estadio Nacional. The beautiful stadium held upwards of 69,000 people, making it a packed venue. The atmosphere walking up to the stadium was exciting with the thousands of people marching to the match. For the game, my friends and I decided that we would all support Argentina and decked out in the full gear, including the Canadian flag. At the game, people were walking up to us wanting to take photos with us, maybe because we were Canadian or maybe because we were all dressed up in Argentinian gear, but the Canadian flag helped us make plenty of friends.

brazil world cup

If you were looking out for me during the game, there was a good chance that you didn’t see me on the TV. Our seats were on the highest level behind the goalie, but it didn’t matter where we sat. Being near the top is probably one of the best places to be. At the top, you can see the entire field, the play develop, and it’s where the most intense fans sit. Argentina’s attack started quicker than expected, Higuain struck a beautiful ball early in the game and had Belgium down faster than they would have wanted.  Argentina who failed to live up to their large hype coming into the tournament looked as though they would bully the Belgians into an easy defeat. However Belgium, which was being cheered on by almost all the Brazilians in the stadium, was able to right the ship on defence led by Vincent Kompany and keep things close. It would not be Belgium’s day and Argentina marched on to the semi-finals.

All through the game, Argentina and Brazilian fans chanted back and forth insulting each-others legends, Pele and Maradona. A rivalry that is so intense between the two sides that football is the only thing that gets in the way of what is a great relationship between two South American nations.

Looking back, I’ve learned so much on my journey to Brazil. I learned so much, like the Dominican Republic trip our class took a few weeks earlier about how different cultures look, how they interact, how they speak and everything in between. My trip was an experience of a lifetime and I don’t know if I can wait till 2018 to experience it again – France 2016 could be a strong possibility in the future.