December 11, 2017

Soccer — World Cup

Saturday, May 3, 2014

A hard trip for a title

The Englishmen playing soccer next to the Obelisk in Buenos Aires.
The Englishmen playing soccer next to the Obelisk in Buenos Aires.
The Englishmen playing soccer next to the Obelisk in Buenos Aires.

Three Englishmen are walking 1,966 kilometres to Brazil

Three Englishmen are decided to walk to Brazil . The aim of the 1,966  is making an offering for increasing England’s chances in the tournament and also constructing a water-well in Bahia.

It may seem crazy, absurd, or the effects of a drunken-afterthought — quite possibly all three — but Adam Burns, Dave Bewick and Pete Johnston are in the heart of an awe-inspiring journey that will take them from Mendoza, Argentina to Porto Alegre, Brazil...on foot. Their journey stemmed from just an idea, and after debate and agreeance, the three Englishmen (dubbed the Three Lions), decided to walk for approximately eighty days across Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil, just in time for the opening of the 2014 World Cup.

But why?

Although never a clear cut answer, it is evident they are trying to merge the eventual personal gratification of this nearly insane journey with the feeling of being welcomed and celebrated in a foreign country over a common ground: football.

And despite not having a steady hold of the language, customs, or culture, the Lions have learned that these important aspects of general society have nearly taken a backseat to the overall mission of their trip. As Pete explained when they met the Herald in Buenos Aires, “The journey so far has been incredible, the people of Argentina have been so welcoming and we have been gifted food, accommodation and even traditional Argentine clothing wherever we have travelled.” Considering the fact that the majority of the planning had to be done via Google Maps thousands of kilometres away, the gents do not take the good fortune of the friendly folks in Argentina for granted.

However, even though the trip has reassured the Lions’ basic need of survival, albeit in a foreign country, as they have been greeted by the Argentine’s welcoming arms, the trip hasn’t been a cakewalk-moreover, it is an understatement to say that these guys have some interesting stories.

When asking them bluntly about their “craziest story” they have encountered (there was well more than one, by the way), they quickly referenced a day that sounded like it was from a horror movie gone wrong. “The worst day so far was when the track we were walking down disappeared leaving us with no option but to walk along a live train line for 4km. The rain was coming down hard and we were seriously lost, so we took the decision to head back the 12km to the main motorway,” they noted. From there, they experienced rain, rising tempers, and I’m sure, looking back, a day they will surely never forget. Fortunately, however, in the midst of being absolutely drenched from head to toe, including all of their belongings, they were able to flag down a lonely, lonely truck in the night. They were able to hitch a ride to a town about twenty five kilometers away where they crashed for the night: “A very scary day that made us completely re-plan our route to avoid another day from hell,” Adam said, almost too casually.

Other interesting adventures include being charged by bulls, being electrocuted by a cattle fence, sleeping in two old dilapidated train stations, and getting a haircut from Diego Maradona’s barber.

Even though these experiences add a certain essence to their trip as a whole, it is becoming clear that their most profound experiences are ones that are happening almost daily — when the three stumble into a lonely pueblo and are instantly offered food, water, shelter, countless conversation and maybe most importantly, a chance to play and chat football — and if there is a general trend the Englishmen have noticed is that they are quite confident of their chances this coming June in the World Cup — rightfully so too.

In addition to obtaining an unmatched and unrivaled experience, there is a deeper meaning to their trip.

Going through an old college acquaintance with ties to the J de V Arts Care Trust, a non-profit organization headquartered in Rio de Janeiro, the gents are in the process of adding a further memorable element to their journey. Through outside donations, they hope to raise 20,000 pounds in order to construct a water-well in Bahia, Brazil, a region in the northeast of the country — which is suffering its worst drought in more than 50 years.

As of today, and growing increasingly more drastic, the drought has affected more than 10 million people, and more than half of the cattle population has perished.

The water-well, while first and foremost will serve the underprivileged in the rural stretch in Brazil, it will also serve as a testament to their efforts of this amazing trek — one that they hope will stay there forever.

At the end of their trip they plan to travel to Bahia to begin the planning and construction of the well.

As for the best case scenario, the three lads (who have already recently been joined by a fourth friend to finish the trip), hope to create a rallying effect where they are joined by people from all different nations to complete the final leg of the trip to the stadium in Porto Alegre.

The trip, symbolically totals 1966 kilometers — 1966 being the last time England won the World Cup.

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