- Title: BRAZIL: FOOTBALL/SOCCER - Brazil beach ball craze heads for confrontation
- Date: 2nd December 2009
- Summary: CARLA AND LEON AT TWO-PEOPLE ONLY 'ALTINHO' ROUND, CARLA KEEPS BALL UP, LEON HOLDS IN ON HIS BACK (SOUNDBITE) (Portuguese) 'ALTINHO' PLAYER JOAO PEDRO SAYING: "The two of them have to get it right. It one gets it right and the doesn't the fun ends. If everybody gets it right, the game flows." TWO YOUNG GIRLS AMONG MEN PLAYING 'ALTINHO' GROUP OF YOUNG BOYS ONLY PLAYING 'ALTINHO' (SOUNDBITE) (Portuguese) CARLA CAVALCANTE DE OLIVEIRA SAYING: "It's funny because people who like 'altinho' spend the whole day playing it. There is no time left to seat down and have a chat. When you realize it, the sun has already go down, the beach is empty and you are still playing it. GROUP PLAYING 'ALTINHO' AT SUNSET TIME AS BIG CRUISE SHIP CROSSES THE SEA MAN STANDING AGAINST THE SUN SUN SETS OVER MOUNTAINS OVERLOOKING IPANEMA
- Embargoed: 17th December 2009 12:00
- Location: Brazil
- Country: Brazil
- Topics: Sports
- Reuters ID: LVA5FANRIYKVTJNPIHSOHZPEI0ZO
- Story Text: A Brazilian beach football craze known as 'altinho' brings excitement, controversy and a different look to the beaches of Rio.
There are more than just helicopters patrolling the beaches of Rio in these hot days leading to the summer, in the city that will host the 2016 Olympics.
Local authorities are also keeping a close eye on these footballs flying up in the air and promised to curb the practice of this very popular beach craze.
'Altinho' is how do the locals call it -- a word meaning literally 'little high'. A challenge that involves keeping the ball up for as much time as possible, performing as many tricks as possible.
In a nation with a record five World Cup titles. it gives Brazilians the perfect platform to show how proud they are of their football skills and of their tanned bodies and .
From December, Rio's mayor is banning 'altinho' near the water from from 0800 in the morning until 1700 in the evening.
The number of city police to enforce the ban has been increased from 96 to 400 but hardcore enthusiasts threaten to defy the order and carry on playing it - leaving the risk of confrontation up in the air.
Local authorities claim health and safety reasons, explaining that racket or any other game have been causing injuries, particularly to children, who are hit by balls or even kicked.
Throughout the summer, ball games can only be played away from the line of tents, behind the crowded session of the beach.
Leon, a professional juggler who enjoys 'altinho', explained the game is not being banned but only controlled.
"When there is too many people near the water and the beach is very crowded, it is forbidden to playing 'altinho' or any ball game but we can play up in the sand -- so it is not forbidden. There is a time to play," he says.
In 'altinho' there is no point system. Players have to show a lot of skill and invention. Sometimes, the ball is kept up for more than 15 minutes.
Until now, there are no organised championships but rules could cover how long the ball stays up in the air, how many times it is touched or a combination of both.
People who love to play it, like Joao Pedro, say 'altinho' must be seen as more than just a past-time.
"It is a sport because you are sweating, kicking the ball. It is a sport like football -- the only difference is there is no victory, it's only for fun," he says.
Carla Cavalcante de Oliveira is rated as one of the best players in the sands of Ipanema beach. The 26 year-old from nearby Copacabana is referred by her colleagues as 'Pelezinha', the small female Pele, and it is not hard to understand why.
One thing that strikes everybody who watches this magic ball game is how much women join in the same level as men. But Carla insists that in a round of 'altinho', everybody is the same.
"There is no sex in 'altinho' -- we only have players. That's what I always hear when I am playing, 'she is not a girl, she is just a player'," she says with a big smile.
Carla earns her living as a lifeguard and has a blog to express her love of 'altinho'. Playing with Leon, she prove that women can do as well -- or even better than men.
What also fascinates in 'altinho' is the fact that players need to cooperate with each other instead of compete among themselves.
"The two of them have to get it right. It one gets it right and the doesn't the fun ends. If everybody gets it right, the game flows," Joao Pedro says.
With boys and girls having fun together, 'altinho' could offer an ideal opportunity to find new relationships. But Carla says there is no time for distractions.
"It's funny because people who like 'altinho' spend the whole day playing it. There is no time left to seat down and have a chat. When you realize it, the sun has already go down, the beach is empty and you are still playing it," she laughs.
Another dayat the beach -- and they jus can't stop playing 'altinho.'
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