The hopes and dreams of Brazilian bodyboarder Matheus Bastos have been crushed after he was denied a visa to Puerto Rico for the final event of the world tour.
The APB Pro Junior World Title contender is now unable to compete at this week’s Encanto Pro event for a chance at an inaugural world title.
According to APB CEO Alex Leon, Bastos’s visa application was denied due to a possible criminal record in his family history. The 16-year-old hails from the notorious favelas of Rio de Janiero, which are regarded as one of the most dangerous slums in the world.
Recently, Riptide Magazine published an article about how the sport of bodyboarding had helped Bastos avoid a life of crime that is common avenue for kids from the favelas.
Mr Leon said he is unsure of whether the visa was denied by the Brazilian Government or the U.S Government (note: Puerto Rico is a territory of the USA and, as a result, all visa approvals go through US officials) however, he said the APB will be appealing the decision once more information is known.
“It is beyond sad that Matheus Bastos could not leave Brasil to fight for the APB Pro Junior World Title in Puerto Rico because of some narrow-minded consulate officials in either USA or Brasil [sic] rejected this kid’s visa to travel and compete,” Mr Leon said.
“Matheus is from the favelas of Rio De Janiero and needs this sport to not only give him a better life but also show all the other kids what opportunities our sport can offer.
“Matheus travelled to Chile and Portugal this year to showcase his talent to the world at just 16 years of age and to have a dream crushed to possibly become a Pro Junior world champion is a very disheartening thing.”
Bastos currently sits in third place on the APB Pro Junior World Tour rankings behind fellow Brazilian Socrates Santana and Hawaiian Tanner McDaniel.
In a facebook post, Bastos remained upbeat about the situation.
“Unfortunately it’s part of life!!!” He said.
“But head up without losing the focus. And now root for my brother (Santana) to bring this story home.”
Socrates Santana, who is also from the same favela as Bastos and surfed with him on the beaches of Copacabana, expressed his disappointment of his good friend and rival not competing.
“Unfortunately my brother can’t travel and be here fighting for the world title with me.” Santana wrote on his facebook page.
“The American [government] visa has not arrived in time for him to get to Puerto Rico.
(Matheus was) with me at all stages, but that will be in thought and in the good energy that I know (he) will send me.
“I’m gonna compete; for me and for Matheus! #formatheus”
The final round of the APB World Tour, the Encanto Pro, will take place at Middles, Puerto Rico from November 5 until November 15.
With Bastos out, it leaves McDaniel, Santana and fellow Brazilian rider David Barbosa to duke it our for the APB Pro Junior World Tour crown.
For more information on the event, read our Riptide Guide to the Encanto Pro Cultura.