That distinctive yellow and green jersey carries some serious weight in the football world. Home to one of the greatest footballers of all time, Pelé, and his 1970 World Cup-winning team, Brazil seems to practically be a conveyor belt of football talent. They consistently turn out some of the greatest athletes who have helped to build the sport’s overall reputation and make football into the international phenomenon that it is today. Let’s unpack some of the factors contributing to this hugely successful national enterprise.
They have a large pool of talent to draw from
It’s important to keep in mind that the numbers are on their side. Brazil has one of the biggest populations in the world and football is practically a religion. Brazilians are also known as a passionate bunch and throw themselves full-heartedly into their pursuits. Not to mention, playing football is considered a virtuous endeavor in this part of the world, so there are plenty of motivating factors that go into producing many of the world’s top players.
They grow up playing football in the street
As soon as football was introduced in Brazil its popularity and football betting community began blossoming like crazy. Football is an easy sport to pick up, doesn’t require complicated equipment or uniforms, and can be played pretty much anywhere where there’s a flat surface. It is said that even Pelé himself played barefoot on the streets with a stuffed sock when he was growing up. Playing under these conditions gives you a thicker skin and a more creative approach to the game, so it’s no surprise that many of those who started out playing street football end up excelling on the pitch.
They develop that fancy footwork playing futsal
In addition to street football, the tradition of futsal gives Brazilian players a competitive edge. An exciting, fast-paced, small-sided soccer game, futsal started being played in South America in the 1930s. It was particularly popular in Brazil where the large populations in the crowded cities translated into a shortage of playing pitches and forced a football crazy populace to place small-sided games. With five-a-side teams and heavier balls, the emphasis is on close control, skill and use of space. The whole nature of the game, therefore, translates into an emphasis on technical flair and the ability to stay in control during situations of high pressure. For these reasons, it is an excellent breeding ground for football competencies that can then be translated into the more widely played format of the game.
Competition and rivalries are a matter of national identity
Whether you’re playing street football with the kids from the next block or defending your country’s pride on the national team, rivalries run deep in Brazil. Starting with small local rivalries, hopeful footballers are quickly indoctrinated into the importance of competition and winning. In Brazil, football is taken seriously at all levels and thus has a thriving community in almost every city in the country. Talented players have to fight each other to get the attention of clubs, so they learn from day one that they’re going to have to work extra hard to make themselves stand out.
They’ve got a strong legacy backing them up
You can’t discount the importance of having been born and bred in a society that breathes football. Brazilians grow up watching their football superstars wear the jersey and they have high expectations for their success. The entire nation is invested in this culture of winning and helping their players be the best that they can be.
The government supports football
It should also be noted that the government has been involved in the development of Brazilian football from the start and has offered a lot of support over the years. As the sport became hugely popular, games of the national team would attract a large number of fans and the government saw it as an opportunity to spread their propaganda. Regardless of their intentions though, it can’t be denied that they played a significant role in boosting the sport at home and on the international stage.