Nikolay Lyzikov on the adventures of Brazilians from Tamo Junto in Russia

The adventures of Brazilians in Russia. Nikolay Luzikov, manager of the team Tamo Junto told us why they decided to bring footballers from across the ocean, how the sports community reacted and what everyday problems they had to deal with already.

— Whose idea was it to bring Brazilians to Russia? How did it all work?

— It’s all simple, actually. The idea occurred to me and Alexey Gurkin. He lives in Brazil, so there were no doubts about the country of provenance. Alexey knows Brazilian bloggers and footballers. I called him to share with him my idea. He was quite receptive, though the idea seemed a bit crazy. Nobody believed that it is possible to bring a team from across the ocean. We worked hard for like two months, didn’t sleep at night. But here we are, winners of the tournament Phygital Games.

— Russian love to cheer for their fellow countrymen. Can we say that you took a risk bringing Brazilians? What reaction and feedback do you get after the first tournaments? Was it worth it?

— For sure. When we arrived for the media league, we received great feedback after the first round. Our game was torn to dozens of highlights, we received many phone calls, my what’s app was blowing up. Here in Kazan as well. Everyone is happy, and so are the Brazilians. They have never seen such cities as Moscow and Kazan.

— What do fans and the football community write and say to you?

— First and foremost, they give me feedback with respect to the actual football. The guys from Brazil stand out due to their game. We don’t play like this. They are relaxed, they have football in their blood, they sleep with the ball since their childhood. Their football is on a different level. We have both Brazilian bloggers and footballers on our team. They are all very artistic, they are not shy to pose for the camera – unlike the players from the Russian Premier League.
Tamo Junto

— For now, we know very little about each player from Tamo Junto. You are the lucky man, you communicate with them and you watch the team from inside. Tell us, please, about each of them.

— I would single out Tiago Kunha. Today he played like a field player but then he became a goalkeeper and saved two post-match penalties. [At the Phygital Games Tamo Junto played the final match against New Russian from Ekaterinburg – author’s note]. He is our little star. He stands out thanks to his charisma and football skills. Jonathas de Castro is our football blogger. He is one of the most famous Tik Tok stars in Brazil. Lucas Zanicello is his colleague, he is also popular in Tik Tok. Rodrigo, Matheus and Dagoberto are three guys from the city Fortaleza, the poorest region of Brazil. We brought them so that they could show their skills here and eventually stay in Russian as professional footballers. We have a social mission: on top of the media story, we decided to help the guys to get out of there so that they could prove themselves here in all their glory. Alexey Gurkin is a popular fellow, he is our organizer and spiritual guru who helps to connect our two cultures so that we move in the right direction as a team.

— Are Brazilian media aware of the social mission you carry out for the sake of the guys?

— For now, I don’t follow much the Brazilian media. But when I talk to the guys, I realize that the feedback is huge, that they follow them from Brazil and also watch broadcasts from the Phygital Games and media league matches. There are many comments in Portuguese. It is a slow work in process, so I believe the audience will only keep growing. We plan to organize broadcasts with a Portuguese-speaking commentator who will be working from Brazil to help popularize the performance of the Brazilian team in Russia.

— When did you find out about the format phygital football and what was your reaction?

— When we found out, we reacted quite positively because overall, we’ve been all playing FIFA since our childhood and we’ve been also playing (real) football. And here we have a combination of both, it is a no brainer. But now that we arrived here, we appreciated the scale of the event, we didn’t imagine that it could be so cool… The stage, the huge crowd and all… We were amazed. And the guys, too. You are not going to see anything like that in Brazil, so I think when they are back home, they will tell everybody about the Phygital Games. Maybe these games will take root there as well.

— During one of the first days the team went on a city tour, what was their brightest impression?

— Crazy impressions. They were especially impressed by the “Ak Bars Arena” because they are footballers. They have never been to such stadium. They do have such football venues in Brazil, but they have become obsolete. And they were wowed when they saw such a cool stadium…

— This arena also has its own story related to Brazil…

Tamo Junto
— Yeah, sure. They told us themselves how they were watching that World Cup match Belgium vs Brazil and how they were crying. And now they came here and saw the stadium firsthand. For them it’s a dream come true – to visit the football pitch where their national team played.

— What difficulties have they already encountered, what really surprised them?

— First, the weather came as a surprise to them, because even + 20° Celsius is cold for Brazilians. And when they arrived in Moscow, the weather was awful – rain and slush outdoors. So, we bought Alaska coats for them, warm hats and gloves. Food was the second surprise. Let’s face it – food is different here. There is local foodstuff they don’t eat, so we had to solve this problem during the first days.

— Any funny stories you could share with us?

— The funniest one was when one Brazilian guy lost his passport at the Domodedovo airport. We searched for it for almost 24 hours, it was a tragedy for us… And when the second lot of players arrived, it turned out that their luggage was stuck in Germany during the stopover. Right now, they are still without their luggage in Kazan, we bought stuff for them because they arrived at night. But we’ve been to Russia for only one week, so there will be plenty of other funny stories.
Tamo Junto