Sharing the Beautiful Game via Kindness at the World Cup

This post is sponsored by Dignity Health, however the opinions and story expressed are my own.

Humankindness is greater than language barriers, than differences in opinion of what team to cheer for at the World Cup, and can connect people when nothing else can.Dignity Health are believers in the healing power of kindness as they bring more humanity into health care. Check out their mission to create, discover, and celebrate the humankindness around us. Humankindness helped my friends and I deal with a rough morning at the World Cup a few weeks ago, as the beautiful game brought people together to enjoy life in a way that often only sports and humankindness allows us to.

beach soccer

A beautiful Fortaleza morning.

It had been an interesting morning. Our flight to Fortaleza got changed and instead of taking off at 8 AM and landing at 9 AM, we now had the delightful flight time of 3:30 AM, landing a little bit before 5 AM. This is the price you pay for trying to make day trips during the World Cup, but I knew that the Greece – Ivory Coast match would be worth it. Or I hoped it would be anyway. A little after 9 AM I was questioning my thought process big time. Getting no sleep and heading for a town where our only contact didn’t have a cell phone wouldn’t be a problem, right?

When we landed in the airport, the sun hadn’t even come up yet. We were really tired after the Mexico – Croatia game the night before and desperately wanted our friend B to respond to our email about meeting him at his hotel room and letting us nap for a while. No dice though when we landed. No worries, we could watch the sun rise in the Fortaleza airport and nap there. After an hour, none of us could sleep. What was our next move? We waited another half hour until half the crew was restless, and decided we should head for his hotel. Seemed smart enough. We grabbed some cabs and headed into Fortaleza to his hotel, where surely air conditioning and some comfortable beds awaited us.

Nope. We got to his hotel, but we still had no email response. The front desk gave us his room number, but no answer on the hotel phone. Three tries later, still no dice. Time for plan C, which was head for the beach. This seemed like a good idea, we could just nap there. At 7 AM the sun was warm and the beach was empty besides some Brazilians doing water aerobics. Time to lay on the sand and get that desperately needed sleep. By 8 AM the sun was HOT. We are talking today might break 100 degrees hot. No way to sleep in that. It was almost painful how bad we all wanted to nap. We started taking turns going in the ocean while everyone else sat on the beach and guarded our belongings and match tickets. This was just not a good start at all. More people started showing up on the beach and a pickup game of beach soccer broke out in front of us. Most of us sat and watched with interest, as we had all wanted to get into a beach soccer game with Brazilians on this trip. Maybe this would be our chance.

By now we were all sweaty and close to miserable. All we wanted was some sleep really. Just a few moments of distance from a rough morning is all I could think about. Instead, I got something even better. As I walked down to the ocean to put my feet in the water to try and beat the overbearing heat, one of the Brazilians playing waved to me and a couple of my friends to come join them and play. It was if he had read our minds, and knew what a rough morning it was. The perfect way to forget the past 7 hours and how tired we all were was this offer to join them playing the beautiful game on the beach. It didn’t matter that we couldn’t understand each other or that we weren’t cheering for the same team in the World Cup, all that mattered was that we all shared the ball and the love of the game.

Quickly we joined teams, and everything else faded away. When you are on the field, no matter where it is or what the circumstances are, nothing else matters. Just you and your teammates trying to be better than the people you are up against. We held our own. They appreciated that we were decent, and we appreciated their moment of kindness to let us escape a rough morning and to fulfill a desire we had each had when we talked about this World Cup trip back in 2013. To get a chance to play soccer on the beach in Brazil with people who lived there, that is something dreams are made of. There we were, doing it, sharing laughs over bad passes and high fives for great goals. After a half hour it was time for us to try and meet up with our friend again, and we thanked our new Brazilian friends for letting us join them. Their kindness had made our morning bearable, and is one of the lasting memories that we each took home from Brazil.

Have any great stories of humankindness from the World Cup, whether in Brazil or your backyard? Share them using #keepitkind on social media!

2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by SamT on 2014/07/10 at 9:10 AM

    Thanks for posting this. Great story, great web site.


  2. Posted by gino744 on 2014/07/11 at 9:39 AM

    Nice story. I would have loved going to Brazil for an experience like that. What with little desire to go to Russia in 2018 or Qatar especially in 2022, I’m afraid I’ll be too old for a pickup game with locals at another World Cup. Hoping Qatar gets cancelled and the US or Australia happens instead.


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