It’s no small thing to play good soccer and come from Brazil. Think about it. This is the country that produced Pelé, Renaldo, and Garrincha, to name just three. Respectfully speaking, Latin America’s biggest country has won five FIFA World Cups—no one else has done that. They must be doing something worth taking note of?
Speaking of small things, I came across the Instagram account of a young Brazilian who already eats and breathes soccer. Not only is he ¡Que lindo!, but Bruno impressed me with videos of leg exercises, goal kicks and a myriad of soccer training methods that seem like they should belong to an older player.
Bruno is seven.
That brings me back to Brazil. How did this homeland give birth to so many elite futbolistas? I think it has something to do with faith—that leap you take when you believe it could happen again and so you try. After all, if Pelé, Neymar, Ronaldinho, Kaká and Renaldo can do it, then maybe Bruno can do it, too. Let me be the first to introduce you to this great kid and his family—there’s a big chance you’ll hear about him again. (Only minor corrections were made for clarity. Emphasis my own.)
- Bruno, I can tell by your Instagram page (@bruninhojam) that you are very excited about soccer. Since you are only seven years old, do you remember when you first realized that you were crazy about futbol?
Julia, I don’t remember the first time I realized that I’m crazy about soccer, but I’ve gone to stadiums with my dad since I was one, and the first time I played in a soccer school, I was two years old.
- You come from Brazil, the country of Pelé, Neymar and Ronaldo. Do you think you have what it takes to be like one of them? Do you want to play for Brazil one day?
I think that it is really hard to be like them. I think they were born with a gift. Of course I want to play for Brazil one day! So, I know that I need to work harder everyday if I want to have a chance to play for Brazil, or any other team in the world.
- Does your school have a team, or are you part of a club?
My school doesn’t have a competition team, so I don’t practice with them. I play for Santa Tereza, which is a Soccer – 7 team.
- Judging from your Instagram page, you already have a very organized soccer training program. How much do you practice?
I practice everyday, at least 2 hours. My favorite training exercise is the free kicks shootout. Everyday, after my team’s practice, I practice free kicks for at least 1 hour. I think that free kicks can be game changers. I don’t have a least favorite; I think that if I want to be a professional soccer player, I need to improve all my skills.
- What position do you love to play the most and why?
I love to play in the midfield, as a center midfielder or defensive midfielder. I love to do great passes to my teammates. I think that what I do best in the soccer field is to steal the ball and create great counter-attacks.
- If you could meet one soccer player in person, who would it be?
I would like to meet the two best players of the team that I love: Thiago Neves and Diogo Barbosa. One thing that I would really like is to practice free kicks with Thiago Neves.
- If you could be a super hero (Spider-man, Superman, Batman, etc.) which one would you be?
I would rather be Neymar Jr.
- Who encourages you to keep going when practice gets hard?
My daddy. He is always there for me.
- Success is a combination of talent and practice. Since lots of boys all over the world want to be the next Neymar or Pelé, do you think you need to do something different to stand out from the others?
I think that I need to practice harder than all other boys. That’s what I think will make the difference for me in the future.
- When you’re not playing soccer, what do you like to do?
Think about playing soccer, play Subbuteo with my dad, or watch series or videos about soccer. Well, I really love soccer.
- What’s your favorite food?
- You obviously have a lot going for you: you speak more than one language; you have a great personality and a loving, supportive family. Do you want to say anything to encourage other boys and girls who love soccer, but don’t have anyone to cheer them on?
Yes, I do. Just keep going and believe in yourself!! Your dream depends on you. Work harder everyday.
Questions for Dad:
- You obviously encourage Bruno to follow his love for soccer. When did you realize that he should be part of a team? If one day he were to choose soccer as a career, would that make you happy?
I realized at Christmas 2012, when in his letter to Santa, all that he asked for was balls, goalkeeper gloves, new soccer cleats and a team jersey. I think I will be happy with any career that he chooses. We are here to support him no matter what!
- There’s a lot of pressure on kids these days to achieve greatness in sports, which can kill the love of the game. As parents, how will you make sure that Bruno is enjoying his childhood and playing soccer because he loves it, not because he feels he has to?
We don’t make him do anything that he does not want to do. He plays soccer everyday because he asks to. He does everything that his friends do, but he takes soccer a little bit more serious than the other boys.
- Sergio, did you play soccer in your youth, or do you still play?
I played for six years as a goalkeeper on an indoor soccer team. When I was 17, I was an exchange student and played for West Seattle High School as a defensive midfielder.
- What do you think is the most important thing you can do to give Bruno confidence on the soccer field or in whatever he chooses to do with his life?
I think that he needs to believe in himself. I think that it doesn’t matter what you want to do in your life, if you don’t have confidence in yourself, you will not succeed.
- What advice would you give other parents?
Don’t let your kids spend all day in front of a cellphone or television. Sports are great because kids learn about teamwork and communication. Also, kids learn the most important thing in the world: that everything depends on him or her. I always tell my son that if he wants something, work for it.
This was an exclusive (online) interview conducted by Julia Valentine for Soccity. Photos courtesy of Bruno and his family.