As I watched the ‘samba boys’ make sport of my peeps (who did a phenomenal job in my opinion) on Sunday, I was reminded of this article by Pastor Kenyatta Otieno, who runs Life Groups at Mavuno…
“Which is the most popular sport in Brazil?”
This is a question I use to pull the leg of many a football fans, poor you if your answer soccer. The right answer is volleyball; soccer is a “religion” in Brazil. You are not mistaken if you thought that soccer was invented in Brazil; the Irish gave us potatoes and the French fried it the same way the British invented soccer and Brazilians made it beautiful. Beginning June 11th , 2010 when world cup starts in South Africa, Rio de Janeiro and the whole of Brazil will stand still every time the ‘samba boys’ step into the pitch.
Between 1885-1933 soccer was a game for the British elite before it was let loose and the Brazilians started playing it on the beaches, streets and every space they could find. The great thing that happened either by default or design was to fit football in their culture. The Indians roamed Brazil before the Portuguese colonized them and brought in Africans to work in their farms. Africans brought their food, music, dance, and martial arts to their new found land. The suffering poor people had to develop great capacity of overcoming barriers with imagination that has influenced the world to date.
The Brazilian soccer style is a reflection of the culture of its people who dance samba creatively in a swing to bring out various rhythms and choreographies. Soccer then is transformed into an art and its players into soccer artists (Ronaldinho has confessed that he plays soccer like an artist would play on canvas), the same creativity that goes into their popular culture of samba dance, and Capoeira – Brazilian martial arts.
The game is played extensively and intensively in Brazil. The high numbers of players involved makes it easy to get the best players at the professional level. The difference is obvious when you try to compare it to Kenyan soccer. We have a mosaic of rich culture which if we apply in sports will be more beneficial than how we bring it in politics. If we can stop trying to play like the British who invented soccer and formulate our own original style and rhythm then we can start saving for the world cup in Brazil in 2014. It can be done if we think outside the box!
I suspect the pioneers of Brazilian soccer did not have it easy because everyone would have insisted that soccer was meant to be played the British way. But by taking it and domesticating it into their culture, they not only owned it more, but they discovered their culture added huge strengths. Samba dance gave the style and rhythm, martial arts provided the discipline. This made their style of play very attractive. Brazil is the one team that even when they beat you, you actually enjoy the experience!
Very instructive for us as Christians: The awesome, relevant and unchanging truths about God need to always be contextualized, or ‘culturalized’ into the language and forms of our culture. When you ‘culturize’ something, it becomes a natural way of life for people; easy to grasp and pass on as well.
That’s what I enjoyed most about reading devotionally through the book of Daniel. These ancient truths, when applied by individuals to our every-day marketplace situations, have the power to transform the very nature of how business is done in our nation.
Speaking of which, it’s time to turn your business into the beautiful game! See you on Friday at the Mavuno Business Breakfast.