Dance key to footing it at the top


Ever wonder what makes Brazil so good at football?

Well, a University of Otago researcher believes he has the answer. After carrying out extensive research, Brazil-born PhD student Luiz Uehara believes the flamboyant style which has won Brazil five World Cups comes from the Brazilian dance form samba and the martial art of capoeira.

When football first came to Brazil, the poor people on the street incorporated the movement in samba and capoeira into the way they played football, Mr Uehara said.

This flamboyance, typified by fluid movement and deception, was now expected by Brazilian fans and he hoped it would bring the country a sixth World Cup come July 14.

''You can win as many games as you want, but if you don't have that style ... the [Brazilian] supporters will be quite angry,'' Mr Uehara said.

In Brazil the flamboyant way of playing was called ''ginga'' (pronounced jeen-gah), which meant rocking back and forth, a movement common in capoeira.

Applying techniques from the Brazilian martial art of capoeira to football are University of Otago PhD student Luiz Uehara (foreground) and (from left) Andrew Lee, Rens Meerhoff, Marcelo Castro and Associate Prof Chris Button. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Applying techniques from the Brazilian martial art of capoeira to football are University of Otago PhD student Luiz Uehara (foreground) and (from left) Andrew Lee, Rens Meerhoff, Marcelo Castro and Associate Prof Chris Button. Photo by Craig Baxter.
The expectation in Brazil to be street-smart and take opportunities also came across in the creative way Brazilians played their football.

As part of his research, Mr Uehara travelled to Brazil and developed a framework for testing how culture influenced sporting success, as he believed the two were inextricably linked.

He believed the same framework could be used to determine why New Zealand was so strong at rugby.

Mr Uehara's supervisor, Associate Prof Chris Button, from the United Kingdom, said the research was ''fascinating''.

''The cultural factors that influence how I believe football should be played are very different from how Luiz has grown up,'' he said.

Dunedin people will get a chance to test whether they can incorporate some of the Brazilian flair from capoeira and samba into football at the New Zealand International Science Festival being held from July 5-13. The winner will receive a free capoeira lesson.

- vaughan.elder@odt.co.nz