Brazilian Ambassador Alfredo Leoni was in high spirits as he welcomed two Pakistani athletes returning from Brazil, following training in Brazilian Capoeira sport and music.
Capoeira is a Brazilian martial art that combines elements of dance, acrobatics and music.
The two young men who received training, Mirwais Janbaz a Pakistani of Afghan descent and Shayan Ali from Rawalpindi, would coach a team of 20 young enthusiasts in Islamabad.
Ambassador Leoni said that the sport and cultural dance originated in Africa and its arrival in South America is connected with the sad history of slave trade.
“Traditionally, children and young men participated in this sport but today women are also taking an interest,” the ambassador said.
“Capoeira is a cherished part of Brazilian culture and also recognised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco),” he said.
Ambassador Leoni said football is also important to Brazil and last year the world cup was hosted in his country where the footballs were imported from Sialkot. “There is no competition between football and Capoeira. The latter is a friendly, peaceful game which one could play anywhere. It is sport, music and dance, all at once. It is played for fun and friendship and doesn’t cost anything since grounds or stadiums are not needed to train and perform,” the ambassador said.
He added that Capoeira helps keep youth away from substance abuse, as one cannot play well if they are intoxicated.
“We are proud to being part of a small team which will now introduce Capoeira in Pakistan,” said Mirwais Janbaz.
“We had a fantastic month in Brazil,” Shayan Ali said.
“Lack of Portuguese language was not much of a handicap. We felt welcome and at home among Brazilians,” he added.
“However, we do plan to learn some basic phrases before our next visit. The embassy in Islamabad offers Portuguese courses,” Mirwais said.
“Sports, music and dance are universal languages, but words do help,” he added with a smile.
Published in Dawn, February 23rd, 2015