The culture shock when changing countries also affects the world of football. And if not, ask Cássio Albuquerque, a 40-year-old veteran goalkeeper who is playing his third season in Saudi Arabia, at Al-Taawoun Football Club, and relates in A Ball his adventures and misadventures far from home, in what he himself confesses that he is “The great challenge of my life”.
Although Cássio admits that his day to day as a soccer professional is the same as that of anyone else in the world, he does note that the only important change is in the schedules, because due to the heat he trains and plays at night . A ‘normality’ that does not affect his family in the same way. “There is a much stricter culture for my wife and daughter. Everything is much more restrictive. And now Ramadan is coming. If everything was already closed, now it will get worse, everything will be closed during the day “.
Where the greatest cultural barriers are found is in certain completely different customs in Saudi Arabia, especially when it comes to religion. “I suffered a bit in the first three months. I felt the suspicion of the Saudi players, very religious, strict in prayer times. Anyone coming from abroad has to acquire this notion quickly. They pray before, during and at the end of a game “, says Cássio. “The formation must have schedules that do not coincide with the prayers. When they match, the training has to stop for 5 minutes, out of respect. They do not pray but they stop. I remember that all this upset me, but then I got used to it ”.
And if with religion there is that cultural barrier, with the exposure of the body there is still it, at least, just as great. “I came from Portugal used to changing my clothes and being naked in front of other teammates in the dressing room. Here is rude. You have to change in a cabin and you have to bathe in a single cabin”, Explains the Brazilian. “When I was naked in front of them, they were immediately embarrassed, like ‘you can’t, you can’t’, and they closed their eyes. But if you do it today, they can tolerate it and play a bit. “