Brazil might be known for its famous beaches, carnivals, and Bossa Nova music, but it’s the football played by those who pull on the iconic yellow jersey and blue shorts that has been the country’s biggest export on a cultural level.
And for Team Brazi’s Kelvin Costa, doing so in the Welsh capital of Cardiff at the Homeless World Cup makes him feel no different from the likes of Kaka, Ronaldo, Rivaldo, and Neymar.
“I’m representing all Brazilians. This is an honour to be here and be part of the team. It’s a huge responsibility to wear the shirt, and we have to show what Brazil is in terms of football and we have to do it with determination and a strong spirit,” he said.
Costa lives in the Brazilian capital of Brasilia, and was the only player picked from his city to represent the team, having come through trials with the street soccer programme of Futebol Social. The organisation uses football to help players get out of poverty and into permanent employment.
And, despite being part of a mixed men’s and women’s side made up of players from across the country, the team spirit the team has achieved is impressive.
“The environment within my team is very good. Sometimes we have some little discussions, but on the field we demonstrate and help each other. We win together and we lose together. And if we lose, we are like a family,” he said.
Like a lot of Brazilians, football has been important for him growing up, and Costa has been playing the game since he was seven years old. And even at such a young age and with the expectation that comes with playing for Brazil, he knows that it isn’t all about winning.
“It’s good to win, but we have learn to lose too. And we are here not only to win but to show our style of football. And we have to show friendship on the field too.
“I have to be a good person on and off the field,” he said.
And be it in the stands or on the training pitches or at the team accommodation, Costa is doing all he can to enjoy his time in Cardiff and make new friends among the other players, despite the language barrier and the fact that everything here is so novel to him.
“Being here is so different from being in Brazil, both in terms of the city and the people. Me and my teammates are laughing a lot because it’s so different. But it’s very beautiful here.
“I’m making a lot of new friends here from all the countries, even though I don’t understand a lot of what people are saying. But we can always talk to each other without words and create a strong friendship with one another,” he said.
And although he feels that his side have enough talent to try and repeat the exploits of Team Brazil in Oslo back in 2017 when they took home the Homeless World Cup, he knows that even if they don’t, he will have come away with some valuable life lessons.
“I think we can reach the title. But even if we don’t, we will have had a great experience. Here I am learning a lot of things—new things about all the people taking part. We know that everyone here has had difficulties and if we can see that we can all be better people.”
Words: Craig Williams
Images: Daniel Lipinski / Soda-Visual