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Ginga – The Soul of Brazilian Football, the African Heritage of Brazil

In so many ways, Brazil has cultures and practices which can be traced to African roots. The social fabric of Brazil is influenced some of the African slaves’ practices. Football is an integral part of the Brazilian life and so with it comes what is known as Ginga.

It is a secret ingredient, a rhythmic soul that the Brazilians possess. Ginga is the acrobatic base move, a back and forth side-to-side swinging motion marked by trickery. And it’s always accompanied with music that sets the tempo and style of the game.Ginga is a spirit Brazilians are born with; it’s a walk, a talk, a way of life, and a vital ingredient to being Brazilian. It comes naturally to so many as it’s part of everyday life; therefore it’s not surprising that this spirit seamlessly translates into their sporting skills.

Ginga  is to Brazilian football what soul is to r&b, swing is to jazz and rhubarb is to custard – vital, integral and essential. The origins of it lie in the cultural fusion found in Brazil and the osmotic manner in which it has evolved. Here you see the influence of capoeira (an African martial art, somewhat like a synthesis of t’ai chi and ballet) blended with samba steps and their accompanying drum beat. How does this affect the football? Well, as Robinho remarks: “Strength doesn’t beat wits.” The wits in question are fired by ginga and there is no ginga without movement, rhythm and joy. As one contributor says, “Everyone has their own ginga.”

Players describe this mystical quality as a ‘gift from God’ but the moment they dribble the ball, hit the back of the net, celebrate with that effortless Samba footwork with the chants of their fans in the background, evidently it’s just another playing ground for them to show what they naturally do best.



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