Football connects world in Brazil

Brazil is a passionate place for football. “Vai Japan! Japan! Japan!” That is the phrase that people, from kids to the elderly, used in Brazil to cheer my team on the minute they found me walking with the Japanese football jersey on in town. We did not know each other’s languages and we did not really talk, but we did communicate. Football connected us. It took 30 hours to fly from Japan to get to Brazil, but it was by far the most exciting event I have ever participated in. The World Cup is not an event where one just watches football matches, but an event where one can meet supporters from all over the world, who have the same passion for football. One can feel the great power of football.

The day I arrived at São Paulo, there was the opening match between Brazil and Croatia. On that day, banks, schools, universities, etc. were closed and everyone did not work; what they did was watch the game. On another day when I went out to the town to do some sightseeing, I noticed that every store had a TV, and every screen showed the World Cup. Even in the stadiums, workers in the stands often neglected their jobs and just watched the matches. Even though I do not believe this is allowed for workers, I am pretty sure Brazilian workers were excused this time.

Being in the so-called “football empire” of Brazil, I could feel football’s dominance and its huge influence on people’s lives. I could feel football’s power not only on the people in Brazil, but also on the people who flocked to Brazil from all around the world. At the stadium, we took a lot of pictures and sang songs for players. It did not matter what nationality you belonged to. On the way to the stadium by bus, I taught Brazilian supporters how to sing Kagawa’s song. I was surprised that they followed after me and kept singing until the bus arrived at the stadium. In the end, we became friends. Again, we did not know each other’s language, we did not really talk, but football connected us.

Brazilian football fans celebrate a goal while watching the opening match between Brazil and Croatia of the 2014 FIFA World Cup at the Farol da Barra in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, on June 12, 2014.

Brazilian supporters sing Kagawa’s song

As a matter of fact, before actually coming to Brazil, I was exposed to a large amount of information from the media stating that Brazil was not a safe place. I listened to comments such as “the crime rate in Brazil is four times higher than in Japan.” However, contrary to my fears, people there were warm and I did feel safe. People can argue that I was just fortunate, but let me say I do not think so.

After Japan’s second match, I left the stadium, and headed toward the bus terminal, but got lost. I first asked a man near me for help, and even though he was not able to speak English, he somehow understood that I wanted to get to the bus terminal. He tried to tell me how to get there, and furthermore, he tried to find someone who could speak English to help me out. Of course, even though the people I met in Brazil were quite nice, I still think people should be careful. As long as you follow basic rules when you go abroad, even some countries that are said to be dangerous should be okay. It has been four years since the last time I went abroad. This time, I realized again that seeing is believing. I recommend all to go see other parts of the world and meet new people. The world is waiting for you, make a move!

If you have the chance to go to the World Cup, I would highly recommend you to go and experience it. Just put on your country’s jersey and go to a bar or wherever people gather, and spend time with people from different regions. That is the best and the most simple way to enjoy the World Cup. Once again, Brazilian people are very generous, gracious and kind as long as you are nice to them. Being nice to people is something that everyone can do, no matter where you are.

Football for better world

My dream is to be a manager of Japan’s national football team and to win the 2042 World Cup. As can be seen from the results of the Asian countries, we are still struggling to pass the qualification round. I think that both Japan and Korea should compete with each other more often and lead Asian football up to the world standard. My hope is for Japan and Korea to play against each other in the final match of the World Cup. I believe in the power of sports to make this world a better place. As football betters our world, I hope it also resolves conflict between countries.

Why don’t we take advantage of sports for a better world? Korea will hold the next Winter Olympic Games and Japan will hold the Summer Olympic Games in 2020. We can make the future bright not only for our countries, but for the whole world as well. We can, so let us do so!

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