Rio de Janeiro: Brazil is often said to be the country of samba and football. The Brazilian football teams is one of the strongest football team in the world and has won the FIFA World Cup tournament for a record five times.
And Badminton, mmm… not a very popular sport in Brazil, many Brazilians have never even heard of the sport.
However, a 51-year-old Brazilian named Sebastião Dias de Oliveira has spent the past 17 years to slowly promote the sport in a shantytown and dangerous neighborhood called Chacrinha, and trying to keep children away from drug traffickers who are looking for new recruits.
“I spent all money I made in my life into this badminton center. I built it with my money, sweat and my blood,” said de Oliveira.
“My family faced a lot of difficulties when I was building this center, and the floor of the house looked like street,” added de Oliveira.
The 51-year-old Brazilian badminton pioneer also incorporated samba dance into the practice. With rackets in hand, the children would do the badminton footwork or swatting a backhand shots rhythmically.
Sebastião Dias de Oliveira’s hard work began to pay off when his players started to win 68 medals in Pan Am Junior Championships, 22 of them gold, and more than 30 titles at the South American Youth Games since 2006.
And now, his son, Ygor Coelho de Oliveira, has become Brazil’s first badminton Olympians. In the Olympic draw, he was drawn into Group K, together with Marc Zwiebler of Germany and Scott Evans of Scotland.