Monday, April 28, 2008

Playing Ball!

So, um, who knew we'd feel so welcome and excited to be on a soccer field with a group of people using a mixture of Portuguese, Japanese, and English? Of course, it probably had as much to do with the fact that we were playing softball as it did with our location or company, but still...

By chance, Eric happened to find out about a small group of people here in Belo Horizonte that get together and play softball on an almost weekly basis. We emailed the group's director a couple weeks ago and found out that they were playing this Sunday, so we went over with our ball gloves in hand to check it out.

We met about 20 people on a sad little poorly maintained soccer field in a slightly-sketchy part of town. It was a combination of guys and girls our age, or a little older, and then a few kids. The group consisted of all Brasilians (with several being of Japanese descent). After stepping off the distances and putting out bases, we spent the first hour and an half warming up and doing lots of drills. Then, for the last hour, we played a game against each other.

My understanding is that the group was started by some Americans that were down in BH a few years ago. They have all since returned to the US, but there is still a group of locals that come out and play and a couple people who are in charge of the group. You pay a small fee to join the group and then the team supplies all the equipment. (As baseball/softball isn't exactly a popular sport here, it would be nearly impossible to find/buy gloves, balls, bats, etc. around these parts!) We played by fast-pitch rules and several of the players were really, really good. I enjoyed having some people there though who had only played once or twice in their made me look not so terrible! ;)

Since the game is less than a Brasilian "favorite pastime", I don't think Portuguese equivalents for the terminology exists. Therefore, everyone uses a combination of English and Japanese words (since baseball is very popular in Japan too) with a tiny bit of Portuguese thrown in the mix for good measure. It took us a little bit of time to learn all the position names they were using, the word for "glove", etc. Everyone was just a whole lot of fun and we had a really great time though! Number one, we understood the game and the rules (unlike soccer) and, two, everyone was just out having fun instead of taking it all so seriously. (We've yet to find a "friendly" game of soccer! That is a very, very serious sport here and many people don't take too kindly to the gringos messing up and costing the game! hahaha Volleyball tends to be pretty intense here, as well, even when the game is just among friends.)

The two and a half hours of playing made for a great workout, especially with all the drills we ran. It was a bit intense for the first time playing softball in a couple years though . . . the muscles in my right shoulder haven't had to move quite that way in some time. I'm sort of thinking that now might be a fabulous time to go checkout a Brasilian masseuse!


Bru said...

hahaha loved your comment about soccer being a serious game... so I'll explain de "seriousness" to you: when guys are playing soccer even for fun, they will shout, they will curse each other's moms, they will look like they're gonna kill each other. But if you stick until the end of the game, you'll see that they forget all of that to drink some beers and have some barbecue after!

JUstin said...

Glad Eric was able to find a softball team down there. I played soccer several weekends with a group of guys from Aracruz, and they were all pretty amused at my pathetic gringo futebol skills. They took it easy on me while I was on the field and made sure I felt welcome, but it was definitely a different game while I was on the sidelines!