For the First Time, Brazil Takes Sub-13 Soccer Talent to Mediterranean Cup

Rivelino, already a celebrity, from Brazilian Corinthians' Sub-13 team Thirty seven Brazilian boys have left to Qatar to pursue a typically Brazilian dream. They belong in the Sub-13 and Sub-15 categories of the Brazilian Soccer Team that will participate in the International Mediterranean Cup, to be held in Barcelona from April 4 to 8.

This is the first time that the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) will take 13-year-old boys to participate in the tournament. All of them will be missing weeks of school.

According to Jorge Silveira, coach of the Sub-13 team, the initiative has two reasons. The first is to avoid calling in the Sub-17 team, and thus cause trouble to the teams in state tournaments.

The second reason is more strategic: to start finding the perfect team to play the South American Cup four years from now, when the boys that are now 13 years old will be in the Sub-17 team.

The choice of players took place in an improvised and practical manner: since the decision was made at the last minute, those who had their passport in hands had priority, in order to avoid delays in obtaining the document.

Besides, since out of the 19 the players, eight are from São Paulo (SE) and Rio Grande do Sul (S), Silveira trusted the advice of friends in teams such as Grêmio, Internacional, and Corinthians. The eleven remaining boys, all from Rio de Janeiro (SE) teams, were personally evaluated by the coach.

They will all meet for the first time when they arrive in Qatar, since some will embark in São Paulo and others in Rio. The training week spent in the Arab country is a tradition for three years now, since the country invites CBF to train there. The training serves precisely for the boys to integrate.

"Some of them already know each other, but most have never played together. How they are going to relate with each other and their chances in Barcelona is still an unknown factor, even for me," the coach said.

"But we are looking at it as a starting point. We want to do a serious, long-term work, with an eye on what this team will be like in four years".

As for taking 12- and 13-year-olds to an international tournament such as this, Jorge Silveira believes that there will be no big problems. "The worst that can happen is for them to feel homesick, the ones who have never travelled for so long," he claimed.

The teams will only return to Brazil on April 9. "But given the amount of boys who are good players in Brazil, the desire of seizing the chance and staying in the team is strong, so they tend to behave well".

The Sub-15 team, a little more experienced, has 18 players coming from various teams from all over Brazil. For both teams, playing in Barcelona is more than a dream, it is a big opportunity – since the Catalonian city is one of the global showcases for the sport.

The training in Qatar should also attract the attention of talent scouts and managers. "I never had any team managers after me, but I hope I will," said young Augusto, 12 years old, a striker for Corinthians, in an interview to the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper.

If the trip is going to yield good contacts and future contracts, no one knows. But just wearing the green and yellow Brazilian uniform is worth it. "It will be a unique experience to all of us," said coach Silveira.

Anba – www.anba.com.br

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