Football Fever! A Native Brazilian Shares His World Cup 2014 Experience

The World Cup has come and gone and boy did it sweep this nation. From massive watch parties to proud patriotism, this country had futebol fever. Now that it’s over, we American’s tend to move on and focus on other things or sports. For Brazillian’s, football is life. For those who didn’t understand, the devastation on the faces of people who’s sad faces went viral is real life in Brazil. Here to share how he experienced the games is Thomas Nielson, a native Brazilian living in Colorado. He hails from Joinville, Brazil and we met through the American game of football while students at Colorado Mesa University. I am always curious how Tom views not only daily life, but big events that occur living in the USA. Tom gave us great insight of what it’s like to witness the World Cup being from Brazil:

Dom Lewis: For someone who does’t understand, describe what soccer means to your country?

Thomas Nielson: Soccer in Brasil or correctly said Football means much more than just a game, it is a religion. Since you are a little kid football is what you start playing, every Brasil jersey goes with the phrase “Nascido para jogar futebol” which means “Born to play football” and that is what you’re expected to do. 

DL: Clearly, soccer is more than a game there. How does it effect politics and every day life?

TN: Football and politics in Brasil live a “love-hate” relationship. In 2013 when Brasil hosted the Confederations Cup, protests against the FIFA event came to live and Dilma Rousseff’s government acted like they had nothing to do with FIFA. When the final came and Brasil beat the former 2010 World Cup champions Spain 3 to 0, Dilma (Brasil’s President) embraced the event and the win like if she was the main protagonist and showed full support for the Seleção and said her government was managed the same way Brasil’s Head Coach Luis Felipe Scolari ran the national team. Now I don’t know about other brasilians but it would surely worry me to have a country managed the same way I saw Brasil lose 7×1 against Germany.

Dilma’s four year term is about to end at the end of 2014, that means in October she will have some explanations to do about the approximate 12 billion dollars spent. More than the World Cups from 2006 in Germany and 2010 in South Africa COMBINED!!!!

DL: How did it make you feel to witness Argentina playing in the world cup final?

TN: We are talking about our biggest rivals here “Los Hermanos” of Argentina. Witnessing Argentina reach the World Cup final was definitely frightening. I must admit that the Albiceleste (the white and sky blue) team ran by their captain Lionel Messi proved to be worthy of a championship game appearance. 

TN: After Brasil’s horrible and unexplainable 7-1 lost to Germany and followed by a 3-0 defeat to the Netherlands for 3rd place, seeing Argentina win the World Cup in our own soil would’ve been brasilians worst nightmare and argentineans gift from heaven. Very fortunately Germany came with the late game win to defeat Argentina 1-0 in the final game and the Machine surely saved me some explanations to my kids and grandkids of how Los Hermanos won it all in Brasil.

DL: How do you see the futbol team and the country rebuilding after this loss and the controversies surrounding the world cup?

TN: This was eye opening for Brasil and even though the results were negative the consequences should only be positive. It showed me how Brasil hasn’t had a top team since the last championship in 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup when we beat Germany 2-0. Since then Brasil’s World Cup campaigns ended in the quarterfinals in 2006, 2010 and with their “best” performance yet a 4th place in 2014. What I expect to see from Brasil’s futebol is the same thing the current champions Germany did since 2002. Start from scratch and rebuild but most important go back to our roots and show again a unique world class football.

TN: As a personal opinion, I would look for a completely new coaching staff letting go of 2002 champion coach Scolari and search for a more updated coach like current Chelsey coach José Mourinho or former Barcelona and current Bayer Münich coach Pep Guardiola.

DL: What did you learn whether from the world, from your country, or from yourself about the world cup 2014?

TN: This world cup is full of memories for me, some good and some bad ones that will haunt me forever. Futebol is a beautiful game that has the power to unite nations and let them put aside their differences for 90 minutes to come together as one. I sure discovered a new part of myself and renewed my love for my country and my passion for the game as well. I would like to see “Ordem e Progresso” order and progress as it says in our national flag.


DL: Before we wrap this up, is there anything else you want to say in closing about the entire thing?

TN: I had to hear and watch Argentineans sing their anthems about how Brasil lost to Germany and their belief of Maradona being greater than Pelé. They made fun of us when we lost 7-1 to Germany, but Hermanos lets think about that special number you guys are so happy about, the number 7. Seven is the number of world cups Argentina has played since their last championship in 1986, after that Brasil won two World Cups, 1994 and 2002. I won’t be that mean to them and I will mention the fact that they played in two other championship games 1990 and 2014, both lost to Germany.

Pelé, unarguably the best football player to ever play the game, the guy they claim to be inferior to their best player of all time Maradona, scored a total of a thousand goals in his career, more than any other football player has ever scored and Pelé also won 3 World Cups with Brasil, one more than Argentina has (2) until this day.

Brasil is a five time World Cup Champion, most by any team in World Cup history.

2018 World Cup in Russia will come faster than we think and I believe Brasil will come as a renewed team with something new to show and bring back home the world cup.

DL: I can definitely hear the burning passion when you speak of football. Thank you, Thomas, for sharing this with me and readers of this blog.

TN: Thank you to my good friend Dom Lewis and Tyson Moll from Just 2 Guys for this opportunity.

“Eu sou brasileiro, com muito orgulho, com muito amor!”




Growing Up an Athlete


So I came across this article on Facebook the other day, titled How parents are ruining youth sports, and sent it to Dom right away. We talked back and forth for awhile as I was driving (sorry mom!) from work to the Olympic lifting gym and we both had some thoughts on it. It starts out well, telling the story of two dads who run a hockey league who’s sons are “hockey-crazed best friends.” Apparently this lasted until one kid didn’t make the mite team, and the two boys and parents never talked again….

OK, I can see where this is a problem. I’ve seen this happen too many times. It’s sad, demoralizing for the kid, and frankly kind of immature in my opinion. Why should that get in the way of a friendship? One of my best friends and I were always on the “A Team” growing up but our other best friend never made it. Did that eliminate our friendship? Absolutely not. Not making the team isn’t the end of a friendship. The article continues to point out that the professionalism of youth sports and single-sport specialization has become detrimental to the kids. OK, again I can get behind this.

“In 20 years of coaching youth and high school sports, I can say unequivocally that adult expectations are the number one problem. As we approach summer, when the living is supposed to be easy, too many families are searching the Internet for a private batting instructor, a summer hockey program, an expensive strength camp, and that elusive AAU coach who can get their 11-year-old to improve her jump shot. This is a misguided attempt to accelerate a process that may not even be occurring, since most young athletes will never reach the elite level.”

“But the fact is, approximately 1 percent of high school athletes will receive a Division 1 scholarship. And those scholarships, on average, are worth much less than the family’s investment in private lessons, sports camps, and other training.”

Woooooah, pump the brakes there. I’m all for athletics being fun, really I am. But the notion that kids aren’t, and shouldn’t be, competitive is a joke in my opinion. I met very few kids when I was young that didn’t treat schoolyard ball as a competition. Growing up, I played AAU basketball, AAU baseball, compettitive BMX, Ute Conference Football, and took hitting and catching lessons year round. Did I have some notion that I wouldn’t make it to the next level? Sure, every kid does. Does that mean I should up and quit trying to get better at my sports? Absolutely not. The journey to trying to become an elite athlete was the best part of it! I thoroughly enjoyed my lessons, training, and summer programs. I made amazing friends, stayed in shape, and was having the time of my life traveling around with my family to play.

Maybe I’m missing the point of this article, but as I read it I just got more and more turned off by it, seeing the message as “don’t let Johnny play competitive sports because he most likely won’t make it to college and professional.” I don’t agree with that. One of, if not the, greatest lesson I’ve ever learned was if you’re not good enough, make yourself good enough. That was drilled into my head from little league through college, and that easily applies to life. I wouldn’t be the person I am today, if my parents didn’t put me through all those sports, lessons, and competitions. You get far in life through hard work, not by picking daisies. And you know what? You can ALWAYS make time for that anyways.

When I have kids, would I do anything different than what my parents did, and sacrificed for me? Nope. Not even close. Take the article for what you want but those are my thoughts! Now allow Dom to give you his thoughts on growing up as an athlete.


I believe I went about it the right way, starting young and learning the fundamentals of the game. At a young age it was relatively unknown the effects that hits could have on the brain but when I was a kid that was the lats of my worries. My mom who was the one who pushed me into the game that I loved and hesitated to play. Once I got out there I knew that my destiny was to play football for a real long time. A career spanning 15 years, football was part of my identity.

Though football gave me a life I truly enjoyed, when I have a son someday I will go about it differently. Kids now a days are more competitive than ever, so are the injury rates. NFL’s concussion crisis has led to rapid decline in youth football numbers and justifiably so. Starting at a later age would be best in my opinion. Letting him lift weights while learning the bare fundamentals would benefit him more starting in 8th or 9th grade.  Less hits on the body and developing physical strength I feel would put him at advantage in the high school world. NFL star Adrian Peterson started playing youth football at age 12, meaning it’s ok to start a bit later.

Screen Shot 2014-05-29 at 10.15.56 AM (2)Rather than develop lingering injuries early in their career or get “burned out”, let kids decide when they would like to play. Kids should be playing as many sports as they can to develop differing parts of their athleticism and not focus solely on one sport.

When it comes to youth sports, make it fun! Make it something they enjoy. At the end of the day it is the kid playing the games and if they earn an athletic scholarship it will be on their shoulders.

How do you feel about kids’ participation in youth sports?