New Brunswickers with connections to Brazil are finding ways to bring their passion for the beautiful game to the province.
Soccer is often described as a religion in Brazil and one soccer star at the University of New Brunswick is heading home this week to join the World Cup celebration.
Diego Padilha, a midfielder with the Varsity Reds, remembers a childhood full of soccer growing up in Brazil.
“Everywhere you go there, you can see people playing soccer. The kids enjoy it, it's really fun actually,” Padilha said.
He brought that Brazilian soccer finesse to the University of New Brunswick and was named one of the best university soccer players in the country in his rookie season last year.
He scored four goals last season, which was good enough to put him in a tie for sixth position in scoring in the Atlantic University Sport conference.
Padilha started playing soccer when he was six years old and said he played almost every day. During summer vacation, he would play up to four times a day.
When he came to play in Canada, Padilha said he found the style of soccer was a lot more physical but he didn't take long to adjust.
“In Brazil, we take soccer like a fun sport. So that's why when we play we are always smiling and having fun and playing a beautiful soccer,” Padilha said.
“Here, it's more serious so they play more tough and more physical, even though they have fun at the same time.”
For Padilha, he shows off his passion for soccer each time he steps onto the pitch at UNB. But others are finding different ways to show their pride for Brazil.
Marlyse Loureiro moved to Moncton from Brazil in 2007 and is an avid soccer fan.
Last week, for the match between Brazil and Mexico, she and many of her friends packed into a house to watch the game.
“That's part of our culture. As a Latino, we love to be together, to have parties, to eat our food. It's a time to celebrate.” Loureiro said.
“As soccer, for us, not only Brazilia but for all of South America, it's our passion.”
If it is not at home with friends waving flags or eating South American food, Loureiro is encouraging others to get excited about the World Cup.
Loureiro even had her Zumba class dress up in soccer jerseys for one of her recent classes.
Even though the World Cup is in her home country for the first time in 64 years, she said she is happy to have such a tight-knit community in Moncton to join her as she watches the games.
"For me, to be here and not to be there, it's kind of sad. But thank God I have this group that I consider my family," she said.
“In Brazil that's the way that we celebrate, people are crazy, scream. So thank God I have them.”