May 15, 2013
On the heels of its first game in Rio, the soccer team awoke Wednesday for breakfast at 7 a.m. local time (two hours ahead of Nashville) before heading out for a full day. The first order of business was a "light" training session at the home of another storied Brazilian club team, Fluminense. While Vasco's facility on Monday was in the city, Fluminense was in a much more rural locale.
A few hundred boys train with the club, and four fields were in full use from the moment the team arrived. Vanderbilt trained in between the U-15s and U-17s, working with coaches Bruno and Lukas, who would train the U-13s in the afternoon. The team played a number of short-sided games, focusing on technique in small spaces. Coach Bruno, whose English was very good, stressed keeping the ball moving with only one touch.
While the training session did not last that long, the day's elevated temperatures ensured everyone knew they had worked out. After practice, the team showered and took a quick look through Fluminense's facilities. The club has become the premier place for developing young phenoms, and has transfered many players to professional sides overseas in recent years.
With work done, the team headed north into the mountains to visit Petropolis. The drive up the two-lane, one-way road was beautiful and slightly harrowing at the same time, with breathtaking vistas highlighted by a 12-inch cement guardrail that on some hairpin turns felt inadequate. But the hour-long drive was worth the effort. The Imperial City was a nice, modern town of 300,000 highlighted by the palace which formerly served as the king's summer home.
Upon entering the palace, employees fit visitors with large, soft sandals that go on over your shoes to keep from marking the beautiful flooring throughout the home (while the lobby was marble, most rooms featured intricate wood floors). The tour took a little over an hour and included many interesting facts about the history of Portugal and Brazil (the crown on display upstairs, which does not weigh two tons, included 639 diamonds).
Vanderbilt plays its second game tomorrow, returning to the CTLA Air Force Base for its second and final afternoon match of the trip.