Brazilian American football is gaining yardage in USA

Brazilian American football is advancing by great strides and gaining huge momentum and attention.

Believe it or not, it’s not just because of those gorgeous Brazilian cheerleaders. Brazil already has two well-established semi-professional leagues in place, and television ratings for the NFL are increasing rapidly.

With all the buzz going on around Brazilian football, I thought I’d find out more about what it’s all about. I connected on LinkedIn with Felipe Pereira, advocate for the growth of football in Brazil, and he really got me motivated to find out more about their football leagues, and how people in the USA can come alongside to help build the Brazilian leagues. Link to original article on LinkedIn.com.

Michelle: Felipe, please explain the landscape of football in Brazil and expound on how the sport is gaining momentum.

Felipe: Football is played all year in Brazil. Normally the first half of the year there are statewide tournaments, as each state may have multiple teams that belong to a state federation. National and regional tournaments are played in the second half of the year. Nationally, there are two leagues, a private league formed by 16 semi-professional teams called the Touchdown Tournament (TTD) and a tournament led by the Brazilian Confederation of American Football (CBFA).

As there over 200 teams in Brazil today, many just starting on the sport, regional leagues are formed to allow newcomers to the sport to play competitively. One of the regional leagues that has stood out lately is the Copa Sul, a league formed by smaller teams from the three most southern states in Brazil. The league led by the Santa Catarina State Federation of American Football (FCFA) has been commended for its organization and well planned games/events. Brazil also has its national team which competed for the first time in the Football World Cup last year, played at the Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio.

Brazil - Corinthian Steamrollers fans

Michelle: Why do you think that American football is gaining so much speed in Brazil and do you feel it will ever exceed soccer as the premier national sport?

Felipe: In my opinion, the sport is growing rapidly due to the fact that there is a lot more exposure to it. In the past, the Brazilian people may not have had the opportunity to watch a game on TV, or did not have any news catered to them regarding the sport. Today, with social media, there are hundreds of outlets, both in English and Portuguese, in which people can read and keep up to date with news of football both in Brazil and in the NFL. This certainly helps the growth of the sport. However, I believe we are still far from the day football exceeds soccer in Brazil. Personally, I would love to see both sports at the same level, although today most of the national sports media coverage is for soccer.

Michelle: According to the Brazilian Confederation of American Football, there are more than 200 American football teams in Brazil with new ones popping up every year. Does that mean there are plentiful opportunities for American football athletes to play in Brazil?

Felipe: Certainly, teams are being formed frequently and most of the teams believe in bringing American football athletes or coaching staff to their teams to improve their roster and to learn from these players who tend to be more experienced. Many of the leagues in Brazil have a limit of how many foreign players can be on the field so Brazilian players can learn and develop in the game, but there is plenty of opportunities for American football athletes and coaches in Brazil.

Michelle: Why is Brazilian football a brilliant business opportunity?

Felipe: There are many factors, in my opinion, to explain why Brazilian football is a brilliant business opportunity. First, you have a large country with a population of over 200 million people. The popularity of the sport is constantly growing, and as we discussed, more and more teams are being formed, which means there are more players playing the sport. Also, there are more spectators, and Brazilians are passionate about their teams. These two factors open up opportunities for companies to invest in the sport and lead in what I consider an untapped market. In my opinion, the first companies to invest, sponsor, and help the growth of the sport will also be known as the ones that gave Brazilian football an opportunity, and consumers will most likely look to buy products from these companies.

Brazil - Corinthian Steamrollers action

Michelle: The Corinthians Steamrollers is one of the Brazilian teams. According to the Washington Times, “The Corinthians Steamrollers has more than 1.3 million Facebook fans, more than eight NFL teams, including the Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Arizona Cardinals and Buffalo Bills.” That’s significant numbers! Why?

Felipe: The Steamrollers are associated with the Corinthians Soccer Club, one of Brazil’s largest teams with a long winning history, and one of the strongest soccer brands in the world. The team is also located in Sao Paulo where there is a population of 11.32 million people. In addition, the Steamrollers have been around for 10 years in which they’ve been 4x Sao Paulo state champions and 2x national champions. It is one of the traditional American football teams in Brazil and has led many initiatives that have been followed by other teams. The impressive number of followers that the Steamrollers has on Facebook is an indication of how big the sport is in Brazil and how much larger it can become if cultivated correctly.

Michelle: The broadcast channel Esporte Interativo reported that games reached 23.8 million people in Brazil last season, with an average of almost 900,000 per game. Do you think the growing number of viewers will garner the attention of more NFL owners to possible invest their financial resources and time in Brazilian teams?

Felipe: I certainly hope so! During an interview after the Super Bowl last year, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, suggested that he would like to have an NFL game played in Brazil. There are also rumors that the NFL may be considering the 2017 Pro Bowl Game to be played in Brazil. I believe that NFL owners are always looking for opportunities to grow their teams and I believe that with a relatively low investment of their financial resources and time they will be able to expand their brands to the Brazilian market. I believe that the know-how of football professionals from the NFL alone would be a big asset to the American football community in Brazil.

Michelle: What are some of the challenges that Brazilian teams face, both in the front office and with the athletes?

Felipe: Challenges will normally vary based on the size of the team and the location they are in. One common challenge faced by all is the scarcity of equipment available for sale and the high cost when equipment is available. Many of the equipment available for sale is imported, bringing the cost up. Another common challenge is the lack of support from local authorities and local businesses in sponsoring and helping the growth of the sport. There are very few companies that are willing to invest in the sport let alone believe in the growth of the sport. Recently, the economy in Brazil has taken some hard hits, so a lot of the local investors are cutting back on sponsoring teams. As for players, some of the challenges are not having experienced coaches to teach them techniques. Many players will start playing as an adult, so a lot of the fundamentals of the sport have to be learned along with techniques, and sometimes, even the field rules need to be learned. The right investors could help solve some of these challenges by providing investment dollars for proper equipment and coaching the athletes in fundamentals and techniques of playing the game.

Brazil - YuriBarreto_PortoAlegrePumpkins-2

Michelle: Do you think that the growing popularity and visibility of Brazilian football will open opportunities for Brazilian players to be picked up by the CFL, AFL, or even the NFL?

Felipe: Ultimately, the goal of every player playing the sport is to make it to the big leagues. Currently, Brazil has one player in the NFL, Cairo Santos, who is the kicker for the Kansas City Chiefs, and I am sure many others would like to follow his footsteps. I believe that over time, teams in Brazil will start to develop stronger players, and especially if the American leagues help develop players and teams in Brazil, I do believe that it will open up opportunities for Brazilians to play abroad. Recently, there have been Brazilian players who have left the country to play for teams in Europe, which shows that it is only a matter of time before they leave for the CFL, AFL and hopefully NFL!

Michelle: The NFL has taken more serious notice of Brazilian football. How could involvement from the NFL improve the structure of Brazilian teams?

Felipe: Ideally, if the NFL were to ‘adopt’ a Brazilian team and help them develop both on and off the field, I feel that we would eventually become a force in American football. Many athletes in Brazil have helped their fellow teammates stay away from trouble and overcome the challenges of life. More than just helping with the growth of the sport, and with the structuring of teams and leagues in Brazil, I feel that the NFL could potentially help many young lives and give them hope for a better life.

Michelle: Brazil is noted for their extraordinarily beautiful women. I can’t resist asking you how much yardage the Brazilian cheerleaders are gaining in their own popularity.

Felipe: Haha… There are a few teams that have cheerleaders, but I can’t say that cheerleading has taken off as fast as football has. I hope that as we continue to change from the mindset of a game of football to the mindset of an event, cheerleaders will become more and more a part of the show. We do have the ultimate cheerleader in Brazil; Gisele is always showing her support for her husband.

Michelle: If an American pro football coach, athlete, or official is interested in exploring more about Brazilian football, what’s the best way do that?

Felipe: Most of the Brazilian teams are online and have websites and Facebook pages. If there is an interest in coaching a particular team, or being in a particular region, one could always contact the team directly. As an advocate for the growth of the sport in Brazil, I have helped connect many players to teams, and vice and versa, so if I can be of any assistance to coaches, athletes or officials, please feel free to email me at [email protected]

Brazil - Jeronimo Jones-2

Michelle: What would you say to a wealthy American who is looking to invest in the Brazilian leagues? What kind of potential exists for buying teams and building the internal league structure?

Felipe: My first response would be to say, “Let’s talk!” I would say that there is a big opportunity to invest in a large country with a large population where football is the fastest growing sport in the country. There is a high demand for sporting goods, for individuals with a business mentality that can lead and help structure and shape a fairly new sport to the country. The general public interest in the sport is another positive and at this given time the dollar to real exchange is favorable for a foreign investor to invest. All of these reasons make now a good time to invest in Brazilian football. As far as potential to buy teams and build the internal league structures, they are available, and anyone looking to help the sport continue to grow will be welcomed in Brazil.

Michelle: Is there anything else you would like to add to our conversation today?

Felipe: I would like to take this opportunity to thank you, Michelle, for allowing me to express my point of view in regards to American football in Brazil, and to welcome all who are interested in learning more about American football in Brazil. We welcome anyone who has ideas, tips, and suggestions to get in touch with me and I will certainly be more than happy to hear every opinion.

I can be reached via email at [email protected].

Michelle Hill
Michelle Hill, the Strong Copy Quarterback at Winning Proof, is a sports and fitness content writer. She writes championship content for pro athletes, coaches, sports agents, sports psychologists, fitness professionals and transformation/success coaches. Her writing includes websites, e-newsletters, e-workbooks, brochures, press releases, blog articles and book development.
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