Jugenheim/Germany, July 2014. What a wonderful couple of days it has been here in Fortaleza. On June 16 and 19, we saw the bravely fought matches of the 1st COPA LA SIESTA beach soccer tournament on the city’s popular beach Praia de Iracema.
The days that Dito and his students, Tor zur Hoffnung e. V. and our team from LA SIESTA had been working on so tirelessly had finally come: Surrounded by COPA hammocks and covered by various international TV stations and newspapers, the students of the beach soccer academy Dito Escolinha made each of their matches absolutely worthwhile to watch with their jaw-dropping acrobatic moves. We were in beach soccer heaven!
“Today’s tournament marks a great step towards securing the future work of the Dito Escolinha.” (José Expedito “Dito” de Moura)
The COPA LA SIESTA, held by LA SIESTA and our cooperation partner, the German charity “Tor zur Hoffnung”, is the first beach soccer tournament for street children to help our friend José Expedito “Dito” de Moura’s beach soccer academy putting the forgotten children of the Favelas of Fortaleza on the map. His tireless and invaluable work often constitutes the only way for the students to break the vicious circle of drugs and crime. Which is why, in addition to organizing the tournament, LA SIESTA donates € 5 out of the proceeds of every sold COPA, a hammock designed in homage to the Soccer World Cup, to this cause and why we have furthermore agreed to donate an annual sum to Dito’s project to help keeping the invaluable work of this unique initiative alive in the long run.
Happy kids and a good omen for the “real” German team
But, first things first: The children loved it! In the tournament, the students of Dito Escolinha wore the jersey colors of Germany, Spain, Japan, and Brazil. In the first U18 match, the teams “Spain” and “Brazil” fought each other. Contrary to the Spanish team’s first match in the Soccer World Cup, this one ended 3:1 for Spain. The second match was Germany vs. Japan brought nail-biting, on-the-edge-of-your-beach-hammock suspension. It was decided by penalty shootouts, giving Germany the ticket to the final Spain vs. Germany. This match was also won by the team wearing the German jerseys. Given that the “real” German national team could only take home a tie from Fortaleza on June 18th, but has subsequently won its following matches, we count this win in the COPA LA SIESTA as a brilliant omen for the upcoming finals of the Soccer World Cup. In the evenings, the tournament on Praia de Iracema ended with a ceremony during which – apart from cups for the winning teams – each child was awarded a medal for participating. Everyone had a blast!
The big Brazilian hammock family standing together
Many workers from the hammock producer Redes ISAAC in Fortaleza followed our invitation and attended the matches of the 1st COPA LA SIESTA. The icing on the cake for them was a penalty shootout and lottery to win one of the rare tickets to the match Germany vs. Ghana in Fortaleza, which Cornelius Grisar, our on-site LA SIESTA representative for the whole event, had luckily managed to obtain. It was won by Ms Diana Paula Coelho in a final vs. her colleague Marcos. And then something happened that we will all remember for a long time: When she found out that it was her opponent’s birthday the next day, she gave him the ticket, making it the perfect present and showing us once more, what true sportsmanship is all about – the heart.
Overwhelming media interest
Numerous German and Brazilian media were on site, when the COPA LA SIESTA matches were fought. The largest newspaper of the Fortaleza region, “Diario do Nordeste”, opened the sports section with their coverage of the matches with a big story on June 20. The German television stations ZDF and ARD and even the BBC used the COPA LA SIESTA for background stories on Fortaleza’s youth and Dito’s work. Stefan Heins, chairman of the German charity “Tor zur Hoffnung”, our co-sponsor for the event, was overwhelmed with the attention the matches created: “We hope to win further sponsors for this unique project, soon. Just recently we have found a place to set up the much needed club home for the students of the Dito Escolinha. It is situated half the way between the Favelas and Praia de Iracema. These are very exciting times for all of us and we hope to be able to take the next steps soon.”
Cornelius dived right into the excitement of the matches. “As a German hammock company producing hammocks here in Fortaleza we feel honored to have established such strong ties to the people who live and work here. We are exceptionally happy to have organized this tournament while the Soccer World Cup is taking place all around us. With the official Soccer World Cup fan parties literally around the corner, this tournament is a celebration of soccer, true sportsmanship, and of the people of Fortaleza.”
The past couple of days and weeks have been very exciting for us. Preparing the COPA LA SIESTA, hoping for a brilliant tournament, and a wonderful experience for the children of the Dito Escolinha made us all appreciate our friends in Fortaleza and in Glashütten, Germany even more. We are overwhelmed by the hospitality of the people who worked with us to make this event possible. And now it is time to cheer our boys of the German national team.
Viva la COPA!
Your LA SIESTA team
There are many ways to sit in a hammock. How many of them do you know?