by Tunna on Jun 11, 2018

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#2 (Brazil 2014) - One night at Bar Veiga, 30th June 2014
Those who've travelled will understand that some of the best memories are ones that you find on the unbeaten track. The round of 16 match between Brazil and Chile will be one lasting memory I'll take away from this trip to hold and cherish. It was approximately 30 mins before kick off, the city was at an almost stand still when Aaron, Jamie and I stumbled across a hole in the wall bar called Bar Veiga around the corner from the metro station, sequira campos which is closest to our accommodation here at Jucati Apartments.

We walked up, ordered three beers and the rest of the afternoon was dictated for us by the local community of whom showed us in a real sense, the best of Brazilian hospitality. We quickly came to learn that all the locals watching the game at this bar were from the same street, or at least the same neighbourhood. They were an even split between two of the cities main rivals, Flamengo, Botafogo and Fluminese.

There was a general sense of community and we were their welcomed guests for the afternoon. Thiago, a middle aged portly looking man asked Aaron to swap his Socceroos shirt (small) for Thiago's Brazilian Jersey (Ronaldo large). I've never seen someone try and squeeze his way into football jersey like Thiago did but he somehow managed it.

Although he found it difficult to breath, especially as the beers flowed, he asked for a short history about the coat of arms and what it meant. Brazilians around listened in disbelief at how Kangaroos and Emus can't run backwards. You could see that Thiago's inquisition made him appreciate the jersey he had been gifted even more as he learned more about our country. He wore it all afternoon and loved it. Then there was Brendinho, son of Brendao. A ten year old fervent fan of the Selecao. When I handed him a plush Kangaroo, his eyes lit up like a child on Christmas morning. From the corner of my eye, I could see him patting and playing with it and randomly throughout the match he'd come up to continuously thank me for the gesture. In return, whenever his father would look across to see our beer stocks running low, he'd send Brendinho over with a long neck of Brahma or Antartica.

It's that thing with being Australian, kids across the globe are familiar with kangaroos and koalas and both in South Africa and here now in Brazil, the joy on the face of a child when you hand them one of these is so warming. For those 120 minutes, we were part of a family, we ate Feijoada and Rice from the boiling pot , we were Carioca's from Rio and rode that roller coaster of emotion football provides with them, as them. We rejoiced in the David Luiz goal, we cursed when Alexis Sanchez equalised, we were on edge for the remainder of the match and extra time. Once the game moved into the shoot out, people started to look to the heavens, arms out stretched, eyes closed. An image that I had only ever seen by watching Brazil play on television.

The shootout itself for anyone that saw was a classical see saw battle and it became unbearable for some. Fernanda, a grandmother burst into tears. She couldn't bear it any longer. To have seen her country bow out at this stage of the tournament, playing at home would have been a national tragedy. A few minutes later, those tears became ones of joy. When that last Chilean penalty hit the upright, it was followed by a procession of mayhem. You could hear glass break, people hugged, others thanked the heavens for answering their calls from moments earlier and the home made horns and fire crackers made their scheduled appearance to salute the victors and lead the celebrations which went well into the night.

I'll never forget my experience at Bar Veiga. They'll never read this but thank you to that local community for allowing me into your world to experience it first hand. Through television we see images of fans across the globe overflowing around televisions, and I had always wondered what it would feel like experiencing this real rustic way of viewing a World Cup. You took it to a new level and showed me a different appreciation again for the sport, and a patriotic loyalty to your country which surrounds itself around your football team. I have heard the following before but it truly makes sense to me now.... 'Football is not a religion but it's everything a religion should be'.