By Jesse Winterholt, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – On a Sunday evening, when most people in Brazil are starting to unwind from a day at the beach, a select few are sharpening up their hockey skills and take to the streets to play some inline roller hockey. The niche sport is growing in the Cidade Maravilhosa (Marvellous City) and becoming more professional.
Inline roller hockey is the closest sport to real ice hockey that you can find here in Rio de Janeiro due to the tropical climate in the city. The game is played on a smooth concrete surface with similar equipment used as in ice hockey, including a puck that is made of plastic material for a better glide. The game also has your standard two goalies but is played four on four.
In Brazil, more than twenty teams compete in the sport of inline hockey. In Rio de Janeiro and neighboring city Niterói there are six teams varying in age group and skills that play the game at a high level. Most of the them train once a week, with some committed teams training as much as two to three times a week. Training usually takes part in a local park or private facility.
The Lokomotiv Hockey Team is considered to be the top team in Rio de Janeiro’s inline hockey scene. The team trains three times a week and on Sundays they host an open scrimmage at a full size hockey rink in Barra da Tijuca.
Across the bridge, there is the São Bento Hockey team. A team that coach Jefferson Coelho da Silva, has been involved with for over twenty years. Jefferson trains players every Sunday in the São Bento Park located in Niterói.
Rio’s hockey teams compete against town rivals in tournaments, and some even travel throughout states in Brazil to represent their home city in larger championships. A few of the highest skilled players have gone on to represent the Brazilian national team at the highest level of inline hockey.
Although inline hockey is a sport that continues to grow quick in Rio with over a hundred active players, the community is lacking proper training facilities and equipment, which is difficult to obtain in Brazil. Players usually bring it in from international travels or have to order it online.
Despite the challenges, a few gems continue to nurture a healthy growth of the inline hockey community in Brazil.
For more information or a training lesson, contact:
São Bento Hockey Team
Jefferson Coelho da Silva
Tel: (21) 9925-1100