Our recent visit to Rio was a combination of visiting farms and a little bit of R & R. Rio is an amazing city and we found ourselves living with the Australian Rowers, cyclists and their coaches in a fabulous aparthotel overlooking the rowing lake and the sea. It was interesting waking every morning to ask the Aussies how they were doing and if they had a race that day. The lift chatter was all agog when Joe Davis won his gold medal, and how he would be feeling after such an achievement. The coach’s room was next to ours and was always left with a shoe in the door to welcome those that needed support. It took all our effort not to get Patrick to enter it and ask for advice.
The stunning mountains made for a magnificent backdrop to our apartment, as was waking every morning to have breakfast with ‘Christ the Redeemer’ looking down on you. The athletic stadiums were well spread out, in fact you had to be an athlete to attend some of the games. It took us 2 and a half hours to get to the rugby stadium which included a 4 mile walk, and we were centrally situated in Ipanema Beach.
It was winter in Brazil, but for us it was the equivalent of our summer. We had only one day of rain and it was still warm enough for a T shirt at 20 degrees. The staple food was beef stew, rice and beans, a diet that you soon had to get used to. There were four tube lines in Rio but most people travelled by bus which were very cheap to get around on, if a little confusing if you did not speak Portuguese. With a population of 230 million they were very self sufficient and most spoke only a little English, although their second language taught in school is English. The stadiums were disappointingly not full, although there was always a rush if the Brazilians were playing and then the stadium would just empty as their overall interest in sport seemed to finish with their country, unless someone was beating Argentina of course.
The roads were a challenge! Driving at 60 miles an hour, 2 inches from the bumper in front seemed to be the order of the day. Once the car had left the ‘black top’ road, tarmacked to the rest of us, you hit what can only be described as red dust dirt tracks. This did not reduce the speed and at 60 miles an hour you hit so many bumps that your seat belt became a garrotting implement and was quickly removed.
One of the reasons for our trip was to donate some Rugby equipment to the local rugby teams that have set up teams in the Sao Paulo favelas. The photograph below shows us donating two large bags of kit to the Coaches that also happen to be past students of the Federal University of Mato Grosso Do Sul, Paranaiba. As it was Saturday morning they actually took the kit to the favelas that morning and used it to coach the children. Thanks to the Newcastle Agrics for donation of this kit.
In addition, thanks are extended to the Scottish RFU that donated £1,000 to the Trust and we met up with John Jefferies in Rio, to share a bit of the rugby tag experience with the receiving team.
The next Trust events are ‘The Stevo Stumble’ on Sunday 28th August walking from Thornton Dale Cricket Club to Malton RUFC, approximately 13 miles. Everyone is invited to attend, just contact Sally Wilson on 01751 474412. Also there is a ‘Top to Toe’ event cycling from John O’ Groats to Lands End, by Tomas Davis, and Harry Stenton, for which volunteer drivers are still being asked for.
Finally, thank you to everyone for supporting The Rob Stephenson Trust, the donations have been overwhelming. We have been able to donate to many young people who have needed help in their love of sport, more details can be found on the website, ‘The Rob Stephenson Trust’. We will endeavour to continue to support our motto: