Another 16-year-old Brazilian is turning some heads – what does it mean?
This week Riptide received an email from a Brazilian fella named Alessandro, who tipped us off about the talents of a grom, Gabriel Popó, from the largest favela (an urbanised slum) in Brazil (in Rio). “[This is an] athlete of the Rocinha slum, with great potential and performance,” Alessandro wrote. “Any help in the dissemination of media will be well accepted. I think it’s worth it because the boy is only 16 and already surfs like the local adults. We please ask your help to promote it. He deserves it not only for his talent, but for his humility.” We were happy to oblige.
Brazil’s a huge (bigger than the US) multi-ethnic country with a population pushing 200 million, with most of those scattered along the (often wedge-ridden) coast. And with guys like Guilherme Tamega, Paulo Barcellos and Uri Valadão having paved the way for the bodyboarding youth (not to mention the Brazilian girls, who have traditionally had a strangle-hold on women’s bodyboarding upper echelons), it’s not inconceivable that we could see a dominant surge from Brazilian fellas in years to come, should they get adquate support. It’s this last point that’s most interesting. Brazil has traditionally had big problems with wealth inequality. Living conditions and incomes vary wildly across the population. And while the situation has been steadily improving over the past decade it’s anyone’s guess how much this has affected the development of the country’s groms and how much it will affect them moving forward.