quarta-feira, 2 de março de 2011

Brazilian soccer player

Pound for Pound, the Best Football Player in the World

Forget Kaká: pint-size Marta is Brazil’s new star.


Crédito da imagem: Joao Kehl / CIA DE FOTO

When Marta Vieira da Silva was 10, a skinny tomboy in Dois Riachos, her hometown in the Brazilian dust bowl in the northeastern state of Alagoas, her team coach gave her a new pair of football boots. They were three sizes too big. “I can take them back,” he offered. “No! They’re perfect,” she shot back. It was her first pair of cleats, and she wasn’t about to let them go. Besides, as the only girl in a boys’ club—in the whole league, in fact—Marta had to prove herself in every match. “I wadded some paper, stuffed it in the toes and just played,” she recalls. In time, she wore out those boots—and the skeptics as well. She’s been doing the same ever since.
Forget for the moment the rococo dribbles, the dead-angle baseline shots, or the odd trick kick, where she toes the ball just over her defender’s head to fetch it on the other side and then breaks for daylight, leaving a pitch strewn with fallen opponents. Sure, Marta does all this—and, with an ease and grace that seem tailored for the instant replay, racking up goals, besides. This is part of what earned her yet another Ballon d’Or from FIFA last month, becoming the only pro player—male or female—to win the international football federation’s highest honor five years running. But what makes her stand out is something else, less photogenic perhaps but every bit as compelling.
Call it heart or grit or fome de bola—ball hunger—as the Brazilians put it. Whatever the name, the sheer determination to play and prevail against ridiculous odds lifted her from kick-abouts with the boys on a patch of Brazilian nowhere to the commanding heights of professional football. “No one wants to win as much as Marta,” says Alberto Montoya, who coached her for the San Francisco Gold Pride, the team she led to a Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) league championship in 2010. “She’s the most passionate player I have ever seen.”
It’s no surprise that football fans are agog about yet another Brazilian. This is the land that turned a 19th-century English pastime into ballet on grass. Ronaldinho’s pirouettes, Kaká’s high-stepping through the enemy, Robinho’s glissades along the pitch as though on a pillow of air: it’s all part of what Brazilians call futebol arte (art-football). “I prefer to play beautifully and lose than to win with a dull game,” Telê Santana, a storied national-team coach, once put it. The world has come to expect no less. And at a time when the men’s side is struggling—Brazil flamed out in the last two World Cups and has never won an Olympic gold medal—Marta has become the most eye-catching embodiment of Brazil’s “beautiful game.”
Pint-size and wiry, the 25-year-old striker seems anything but a powerhouse, least of all on the pitch in Europe or the U.S., where strapping defenders often tower over her. Yet Marta has learned to run with Amazons. “She might look fragile, but when players collide with her on field, it’s like running into a wall,” says Montoya. Standing 5'2" (1.6 meters) and weighing just 128 lbs (58 kilos), she might be—measure for measure—the most complete player in the game today, sprinting, spinning, defending, and scoring with a dexterity and sleight of foot that appear at times to defy physics.

Source: http://www.newsweek.com

Um comentário: