By Kate Rintoul, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – With its temperate climate, variety of landscapes and body conscious inhabitants, Rio is a great city for fitness, but if you’re new to the city and don’t speak Portuguese, it can be hard to get involved. Now AtivoRio (Active Rio) is a new social sports network providing fun and accessible activities to anyone visiting or living in Rio.
This new social sports club only opened for business in May and has already proved popular. According to one of the company’s founders Christine Hoogstraten, “We have had nothing but positive reactions. The people that we approach are all very interested and like the idea because it does not exist yet in Rio. It definitely fills a need.”
AtivoRio currently caters to those looking to play football (soccer) and basketball and will soon expand to include beach volleyball. There is no long term commitment, however people need to become members in advance, so that sessions can be planned.
“People prefer to just rock up on the field, but unfortunately we have to ask them to register. In order to offer everybody a well organized games and let them play a fair amount of time, we need to know how many people are coming,” Hoogstraten added.
Originally from the U.S., Hoogstraten has lived in Rio for a few years and founded AtivoRio along with two colleagues, one from the Netherlands and the other a Brazilian, so the team has a wealth of sports knowledge from a variety of perspectives.
Having all worked in tourism, the AtivoRio founders have taken a model of the social sports club which is popular in the U.S. and have adjusted it to fit the needs of both the local population and expatriates.
“When we started looking into the idea we realized that it is very hard to play a game of football in Rio on a turf field, both for Brazilians and for tourists. The Flamengo fields get booked up with people playing on them all night long (you see people playing there at 4AM) and there is a lot of bureaucracy just to play a game of football.”
“We thought we could offer something for both Brazilians and for foreigners and let them play together. The benefits for foreigners are that they might not speak Portuguese, they might not know enough people to play with and they are not in Rio long enough to lose time on finding out how to get into a game.”
As for Brazilians looking to play sports, AtivoRio takes care of the organization of games. “They don’t need to worry about getting a license, if there will be enough people to play or if players will actually show up, if there is a goalie or a ref, etc. AtivoRio takes care of all these things.”
The social side of AtivoRio is also important, “Our main focus is definitely on the sports, we facilitate games. However we want to do this in a fun way and not only focus on the competitive part of sports. So we want everyone to feel welcome to play, even if you are not a top player. With the social part we create that atmosphere. It is about playing sports, but also about having fun and meeting people.”