Helio Pereira dos Santos earned a place in the history of Brasilia’s Estadio Nacional last weekend when he became the first person to score a goal at the new stadium, which will host games at the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup and 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™.
“I feel very proud about it,” said the 25-year-old carpenter, who hails from Araripina in Pernambucano state. “I got on the end of a great pass and took my chance. It’s a fantastic feeling.”
The honour came his way at the 2nd Workers Solidarity Cup, which kicked into action last Saturday and will continue over the next four Saturdays. Taking part in the tournament are 64 men’s teams and four women’s sides, fielding 12 and 15 players respectively, with 20 teams battling it out in the first round for ten places in the next phase.
The workers have the task of laying every brick at the new arena, it is fitting that they should get first use of its playing surface,” said Federal District Governor Agnelo Queiroz. “This tournament symbolises the integration of our construction workers, and our intention in organising it is to pay tribute to the people who are making history by building the first in a series of facilities that are going to enhance the quality of life of the people of Brazil.”
To get in the spirit of the upcoming FIFA World Cup, participating teams have each adopted the name of a country, with Queiroz having the honour of kicking off the opening game between the USA and Nicaragua.
In describing the tournament as a tribute to the workers, Claudio Monteiro, the Executive Secretary of the Brasilia 2014 Local Organising Committee, said: “This is a worthy event that gives workers the chance to enjoy playing on a pitch that will welcome the biggest stars in world football in the future.”
As its name suggests, the Workers Solidarity Cup is also a charity event. The players taking part in the competition have donated a ton of food to a variety of charity organisations, with deliveries being made by the workers themselves last Thursday morning.