Boavista invite local teenage duo back for training stint
Two local teenagers set for training stint, CBF coaching course in the pipeline next year
It was there, in August, that the Majulah Singapura was heard for the first time at the Olympics, after Joseph Schooling won gold in the pool.
Rio de Janeiro witnessed what is perhaps Singapore's finest sporting moment and the Brazilian city is still playing some part in the country's sporting development.
Next month, two Singaporean boys will make the long journey to Rio to spend four months with Boavista, a club that compete in Rio's top club competition, against the likes of Fluminense, Botafogo and Flamengo.
The New Paper had reported in March that Winchell Ng and Ryan Goh were with Boavista for a month-long training stint late last year, and have been invited back by the club for another four months, to be groomed for their Under-17 side.
TNP first reported on the pair back in March.
Central defender Winchell is the captain of St Patrick's School's B Division side, while midfielder Ryan skippers St Gabriel's Secondary School.
Both are 16 and feature in Home United's youth ranks.
Brazil's ambassador to Singapore, Flavio Soares Damico, hailed the move in what he believes is a healthy exchange between the two countries.
"It would be a great thing, we like to have exchanges like these. I would say it like this: Singapore is so developed in many fields, and bringing Brazilians here to learn has been good for Brazilians," said Damico, who met the two youngsters earlier this month.
"Likewise, we have experience in soccer - it's really big in the country - it's an area where we have something to show, and I'm sure the boys will pick up things."
That's not all. This exchange with Brazilian football could deepen next year, with the Brazilian Football Association (CBF) set to conduct a coaching course here.
"It has been indicated to me, and it would be excellent. I think it is very good for coaches to also have this exchange and experience," added Damico, pointing out that structured training is essential as part of a broader enabling environment that needs to be built for the sport to succeed.
"When you have good coaches who are able to give direction to young players, (coaches) who are well acquainted with modern techniques, that will facilitate the entire process," said the man who has helmed the Brazilian embassy here for some five months.
"If the CBF could help implement these initiatives, that would be great for both (Brazil and Singapore)… especially in the year of the 50th anniversary of Brazil-Singapore relations," said Damico.
Brazil and Singapore established diplomatic relations in 1967 and bilateral ties strengthened in 1984, with the opening of a permanent Brazilian embassy here.
"It would be good for Brazil, we would be showing our flag; and also for Singapore in that (Singapore will be able) to extract some benefits from that," he added.
But there are more than just the most obvious benefits gleaned from such exchanges, and Damico believes Ryan and Winchell will experience that first-hand.
"Since I started this life (with the Brazilian government), I have travelled a lot. Other than the soccer the boys will appreciate, the life experience is very good, it makes you more tolerant, more open to other cultures.
"This is the sort of experience that needs to be lived in its entirety," said Damico, who has lived in Bangladesh, Timor Leste, New York and Geneva.
"Singapore is so developed, but I've been in other countries in the region that are very poor. That has given me an in-depth view of how difficult it is to get here (to where Singapore is). If you just get to a place that's rich, you think it's always been rich, but it's not like that.
"I appreciate better the circumstances, what was required to uplift the country and that has prompted me to have a huge admiration for Singapore."
On the personal front for Damico, the Brazilian-Singapore exchange is also poised to strengthen in the coming months.
His 22-year-old son, who also plays football, is joining him in Singapore.
The younger Damico, who is 2.03-metre tall and is equally adept in defence or midfield, is looking to play here.