*Read part 1 of the Sports Tech in Brazil series here.*
In Brazil, soccer is a national treasure. It is as much of a natural resource as the Amazon (and you can make an argument either way as to which is more important). The Amazon produces 20% of the world’s oxygen that humans need to live. However, it is soccer that gives Brazilians life.
From the beaches of Rio de Janeiro to the streets of Sao Paulo, and beyond, the love for football permeates throughout society.
In the airport, you might see a kid walking with his parents to their gate while dribbling a ball around oncoming travelers and airport staff.
On the beaches, you might see a group of people, old and young, male and female, diving around in the sand, playing a game of futevolei—a sport that mixes aspects of beach volleyball and soccer.
In the favelas, you might see a family gathered in a circle playing a game of ‘altinho’—a game in which you use your feet to keep a soccer ball up in the air.
At bars and restaurants, you’ll see crowds of fans wearing the jerseys of their favorite teams as they watch 'the game.'
And on the faces of the people will be smiles, tears, or frowns depending on the outcome of the game.
Brazilians are known to be expressive people and that is especially true when it comes to soccer. That’s why the World Cup defeat to Germany had such a profound impact on the country. Brazilians are so emotionally invested in the success of the national soccer team that the traumatizing loss changed the way they viewed sports performance and spurred a technological revolution.
Somewhere in Brazil, there’s a kid who remembers the crushing 7-1 defeat to Germany. This kid remembers the despair of that moment. The shock. The embarrassment. The humiliation. The memory is permanently ingrained in the kid’s mind—nothing will ever erase it. The only thing to do is to prevent it from happening again. This kid intends for that to be the case because, like many kids in the country, (s)he dreams of one day walking onto the field in the iconic yellow and green jersey to play for ‘Brasil.’
And so, this kid is training for that moment. Training to be the next Brazilian football star.
Suppose that this kid is you.
You wake up in the morning and check your phone. You check to see the scores and results of the Brasileirão. You play the highlights of your favorite team, closely watching the moves of all your favorite players. Once you’ve gotten enough inspiration, you run outside to the pitch.
Enlisting the help of the other kids in the neighborhood, you try to recreate all the top plays from the night before—headers, crosses, kicks and dribbles. However, you and your friends don’t know how to perform every move.
You take out your phone and open the Soccer-1 app. Using soccer-1 you watch over 60 fundamental moves in 3D. You play different clips in slow-motion, zooming in and out from every angle to identify the correct limb placement and range of motion for each move. You rotate between studying the moves and attempting them until you’ve perfected each.
After a while you get hungry. Plus, it’s almost time for your gym workout. You leave the field and stop at home to get ready.
Fortunately for you, there’s already food waiting for you. Your family ordered food online and it was delivered straight to the house via iFood, a Brazilian food delivery app. You eat, throw on your Joga+ vest and Carenet wearable watch and head out to the gym.
As you descend from the top of the hill that you live on, you open the fitness app Gympass to see which gyms are available. Your membership gives you the flexibility to attend any gym or fitness class that is part of the Gympass network. You notice the gym down the street is part of the network so you head over there. Once you’re within range of the gym, you gain access to sign-in on your geolocation enabled phone. You sign in and inform the receptionist. The receptionist validates your information and lets you enter.
Once inside, you go through your usual routine: stretch, functional exercises, core workout, stretch and foam roll. Done.
As you’re leaving the gym, you feel your phone vibrate. you reach into your pocket to pull it out. You notice a WhatsApp message from your friend:
‘Soccer at 1:30 PM across from the beach. We already reserved the field.’
You glance at the time: 1:00 PM.
You rush to the bus stop. Once on the sidewalk, you look down the street.
There’s no bus in sight.
You have two options:
Wait for the bus—and take the chance of showing up late—or catch a cab.
You decide to go with option 2.
With a few taps on your phone, you order a cab and pay for it using the app EasyTaxi.
After a few minutes the cab pulls up to the curb. You hop in, and off to the field you go.
Moments later, the cab pulls up to the field with time to spare.
As you’re getting out of the cab, you see your friend sitting on a bench in the distance. You walk over. Your friend greets you with a customary slap of the hands and fist bump. Something is on your mind though. You wonder how he was able to reserve the pitch—it’s the most popular one in town. So, you ask about it.
Your friend answers, “by using Apitador.”
“Apitador lets you find and book fields, look for players to compete against and join games nearby.”
Seems simple enough. You’re just grateful that he was able to reserve the field.
The two of you start to warmup.
As you’re waiting for the rest of the players to show up, you decide to test out your skills by playing “desafio da trave”— a challenge to see who can shoot the ball and connect with the crossbar the most times out of a designated number of attempts.
As you’re playing, the rest of the players filter in. However, someone is missing…
You try to recruit someone nearby to fill-in but the effort proves unsuccessful.
Once again, you turn to tech.
Using the app Goleiro de Aluguel—Portuguese for ‘Goalkeeper for Rent’—you find and request a goalie. Shortly after, the goalie shows up. Now, it’s time to play.
Just before the game starts, you launch the Joga+ app and insert your phone into the pocket on the upper back of your Joga+ vest. This is essential for capturing rich movement and workload data for you to analyze later.
You play for the next hour and a half until the next group with a reservation shows up. Once the game ends, you and your friends get on your devices.
On Goleiro de Aluguel, you rank the goalkeeper and pitch in to cover the fee (roughly $10 USD/hour).
Someone from the group mentions how they downloaded the app after watching the Goleiro de Aluguel team on Shark Tank Brasil.
Sensing that you haven’t seen the episode, your friends fill you in.
"Goleiro de Aluguel negotiated with two of Brazil’s most well-known entrepreneurs, Carlos Wizard Martins and João Appolinário, for a 6-figure investment."
You marvel over how much money it is while leaving the field.
You and your friends make sure to stop by a vendor on the beach for something to eat. The food of choice is acai, the popular super-food in Brazil.
You sit on the beach, eating açaí and watching the futevolei lesson taking place in front of you.
Once finished eating, you coordinate tomorrow’s plans with your friends and go your separate ways.
You head back to your house on the hill.
It’s 7:30 pm when you finally arrive back at home.
Before going to bed, you put on the TV. It’s tuned into SporTV, Brazil’s most watched sports channel.
Breaking news: your favorite player just got bought out for a record-setting transfer fee.
You glimpse at the number -- $260 million!
You post an update about it on social media then go to your room.
You lay in bed and rest your head on a pillow.
You check your apps to review your stats for the day to identify areas for improvement. While sifting through the data, you fade off into sleep.
You dream of playing like your idols. You dream of dribbling like Garrincha, passing like Socrates and scoring like Pelé. You dream of being the next heir to ‘futebol nation.’ To do so, you will need another effort like the one you gave today.
Suddenly—an alarm goes off!
You wake up and look out the window. All you see is the sight of makeshift houses, trash on the ground, and rats nestled in the crevices of the concrete. In some alleyways are police dressed in military equipment, holding assault rifles. In others, gangmembers counting up their drugs on the floor.
It was a dream all along. This is your reality.
Sports technology is influencing the next generation of soccer in Brazil. The kid training to be the next Brazilian star will not only develop through traditional methods, such as playing the high-skill games futevolei and altinho, but also through the application of technology.
However, like many of Brazil's soccer stars, this kid will likely be from a Favela. Born into a life of poverty and exile, this kid will struggle to access the basic necessities of life, let alone the technology that will define sports performance of the future. So, instead of becoming the next star in Brazil’s rich lineage of football, he will never be discovered. He will fall victim to the inequalities of the nation that he dreams of representing...
*Learn more about sports technology in Brazil in 'The Ultimate Guide To Sports Tech In Brazil'