Wed | Sep 20, 2017

Red Stripe Grandstand | A long and lasting love

Published:Thursday | August 11, 2016 | 8:00 AM
Jamaica's Brazilian coach Rene Simoes is hoisted after Jamaica drew with Mexico in their CONCACAF final round qualifier at the National Stadium in 1997, which marked Jamaica's qualification for the 1998 World Cup Finals in France. Looking on are Reggae Boyz Deon Burton (right) and Aaron Lawrence (centre).
Usain Bolt looks on as a Brazilian dancer shows him how to do the samba at the Jamaica Olympic Association press conference held at the Cidade Das Artes in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Tuesday.
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Jamaicans and Brazilians share an almost natural attraction for each other.

We like Brazil and most things Brazilians.

They like Jamaica and most things Jamaican.

It's not quite clear when this love fest began, but there is more than enough evidence that shows a mutual appreciation of cultures, people, and places.

For instance, ask a Jamaican which is their favourite international football team and the vast majority will tell you Brazil. Decades ago, it was near impossible to find a Jamaican who did not support the Selacao. That has changed somewhat these days, but the Brazilians are still the team of choice for most.

Vintage Jamaican footballer Alan 'Skill' Cole also made a name playing in Brazil for the club Nautica.

So much so that we went to Brazil to find a coach for our own football team when we were making what some would say was our first major push for World Cup qualification when you consider the public and private funds that were committed.

RenÈ Simoes will also be remembered fondly by Jamaicans for taking Jamaica to the 1998 World Cup in France. There have been many other Brazilians on the Jamaican bench since then, even if the results have been far less successful.

 

Music

 

While we aren't exactly a samba-loving country, Brazilians are very much in tune with Jamaica's signature sound: reggae.

The island's biggest ambassadors of music - Jimmy Cliff, who lives in Brazil, and Bob Marley - are icons in the country. Reggae is very much the norm in most restaurants and is a very popular sound on Brazilian radio.

There is also a strong Jamaican dancing scene here.

Nowadays, it's sprinter Usain Bolt who connects the countries more than ever. His name brings immediate approval.

No question about who the locals will be cheering for when the men's 100m finalists face the starter.