Considering that Palmeiras’ U-20 entered the Copinha without seven regulars, the youngsters fared fairly well: after finishing first in their group, they went on knocking out Vitória, then Galvez, before earlier this week suffer elimination to Figueirense. Well, actually, not primarily to Figueirense but to the referees: Figueirense’s first goal was the result of an incorrectly awarded free kick just outside the penalty area; the southerners then went on to score their second, but Palmeiras reacted, got one behind the keeper and then, in the dying minutes, scored the equalizer, only to have it incorrectly disallowed for offside.
What will stick in our memory from this tournament took place off the pitch. After eliminating Galvez in the second round of the knockout phase, a disheartening fact was disclosed: the small team from Acre, 3.000 km away, had no money left to travel home. They had counted on elimination after the group phase, but ended up playing two more games. The airline cancellation fees and additional expenses for accommodation and food had Galvez coach Oziel Moreira turn his pockets inside out. Now, they were R$ 44.000 short (US$ 12.000).
In a gesture that put a smile even on rivalling supporters, Palmeiras stepped in and payed for Galvez’s return home. Not only that: on the day preceding the trip, the Galvez team was invited the Allianz Parque, then to Palmeiras’ training facilities, where each of the kids received a pair of football boots. For the club, a sack of balls. In addition, they met with a selection of Palmeiras staff and players, including Acre-born goalkeeper Weverton – telling them a bit about his career and giving advice – before dining in the canteen.
Rio Branco locals greeted Galvez as heroes upon their return. On social media, the club issued a warm thank-you note to Palmeiras, ending with a #NeverJustFootball hashtag. We could not agree more.
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!