Illustrious Brazilian soccer school laments lack of support

Brasilia: Jose Joaquim da Rosa has nurtured seven Brazilian internationals for free at his humble Planaltina youth soccer club and all he wanted in return was a few tickets for his latest protégées to witness their home World Cup live.

But the coach, better known as "Ze Vasco", and his latest batch of scholars at the camp on the outskirts of the Brazilian capital have been left to watch the country`s bid for a record sixth World Cup on television.

Just 40 minutes drive away, six World Cup matches have been played at the 1.6 billion Brazilian reals ($723.00 million)Brasilia national stadium, including Brazil`s 4-1 Group A win over Cameroon.

Ze Vasco said that most of the 150 children aged between five and 17 that come to his school each week are from families which often struggle to make ends meet and a visit to a World Cup match would have been a nice touch.

"What is the dream of the kids? To be in the stadium, to watch a game, but how will they buy the tickets? They can`t buy tickets; tickets are very expensive," he told Reuters.

Ze Vasco, who is officially employed as a maintenance agent in the nearby stadium, explained that he was not paid to coach.

He said the government should do more to help the next generation of athletes who strive to follow in the footsteps of his famous alumni, including former Brazil captain Lucio.

"We don`t have a government which comes along and says, `We will help the kids, we will get the kids out of school to take them watch a game`.

"Unfortunately the government hasn`t helped anyone in this way... I think the government should give away some tickets for the youth schools, for the kids who live in the state to go and see the game.

"If you ask for a ball they don`t give it to you. One time the government gave shirts, a year ago, and since then nothing."

The government did provide Ze Vasco with a small office where he has pictures littered around of Lucio, who played in three World Cups and won soccer`s greatest prize in 2002.

The powerful central defender played his club football for European giants Bayern Munich and Inter Milan before returning to Brazil with Sao Paulo and now Palmeiras.

Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Sandro is another to be trained by Za Vasco. The defensive midfielder helped Brazil win a silver medal at the 2012 London Olympics but just missed out on a place in the 23-man squad for this World Cup.

One of Ze Vasco`s latest talents, Jefferson Matteus, better known as "Biro Biro" by his team mates, dreams of following the illustrious pairing to Europe and the international stage.

"To play in Flamengo, then play in Barcelona, then play a World Cup for Brazil," Biro Biro said, imagining his future ahead having already spent two years training with Sao Paolo`s prestigious Santos youth club.

His 13-year-old team mate Gustavo Martines also dreams of playing for Barcelona, the current club of Brazil`s favourite footballing son Neymar and fullback Dani Alves.

"My dream is to be a soccer player and help my family, buy a house for my mum," said Martines.


Even if Barcelona does not prove to be the final destination for the budding hopefuls, Ze Vasco believes that soccer teaches his charges important discipline and helps to keep them on the right track.

Ze Vasco, who has coached for 30 years, has no tolerance of funky haircuts, and aims to keep the boys focused by telling them that they will not play in tournaments if they don`t follow his rules.

His players bring out footballs for training in a shopping cart and work together to put the nets on the goalposts at the red dusty pitch where they hone their skills.

"Here in our city there are few options for the kids," he said, "Or they play football or they get involved in petty crime.

"Here, lots of children get involved in crime because they don`t have anything to do.

"Through football you can get the message through to the kids that they need to take things seriously, that they have to go to bed at a certain time, get home at a good time, everything they need to take care of."

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