Samba, shirts and success

By Wong Yat-hei

Hong Kong's biggest Brazil fan can't wait to watch his team take on the world in search of a sixth trophy.

By Wong Yat-hei |

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The four-year wait is over. The World Cup is kicking off in Brazil! Local football fans will gather around TVs at 4am tomorrow to watch the opening game - Brazil versus Croatia.

But local fan Fat So Chi-kit won't be joining them. He'll catch the action live at the Arena de Sao Paulo.

For So, a diehard Brazil fan, watching his team on home soil is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

"This year's World Cup has a special meaning for Brazilians who are looking to bounce back from a tragic game in the 1950 World Cup," he says. That was the last time Brazil hosted the tournament.

"Brazil were stunned by Uruguay 2-1 in front of their home fans. It was 64 years ago, but the game remains a heartache for most Brazilians. It's a game that they still haven't forgotten."

So was born and raised in Hong Kong, but is passionate about Brazilian football. He collects the team's memorabilia, much of which is on display during the World Cup.

"I first watched a World Cup game when I was 10 years old. It was a quarter-final showdown between Brazil and France in 1986 in Mexico. Both were excellent teams, but the Brazilian footballers' fancy play stole my heart," he says.

So's love for Brazilian football has also led him to embrace the nation's culture. "As well as following the football team, I read books about Brazil, and also listen to Brazilian music. My favourite music is bossa nova, which is Brazilian-style jazz music."

Immersing himself in Brazilian culture has even affected his personality. So says that it has even helped him become more laid-back about life.

"I used to live at a hectic pace like most people in Hong Kong. But I learned the importance of enjoying life from Brazilians. Once in a while, I'll just make a cup of coffee and chill out for an afternoon, like a Brazilian."

So also appreciates why some Brazilians are not happy about hosting the World Cup. There have been protests, with many saying the money spent on hosting the Cup should have been used to help the country's poorest people.

"I understand the frustration of Brazilians. People there are not wealthy. It is unbearable for many," he says.

So started collecting Brazil souvenirs after watching his first World Cup match, and now has a huge collection.

"I have lost track of how many products I have, but the autographed shirts are my most prized items," he says.

And it's not just objects he gathers - he tries to add personal encounters to his collection.

"It can be hard to meet the players at crowded events. But in 2003, I found out that the Brazil team [which had won the 2002 World Cup] was playing in Guangzhou.

"They were in transit in Hong Kong, so I bought a ticket and hopped on the plane with the team. I met Ronaldo and got him to sign a shirt."

So's Brazil collection is showing at Tuen Mun Town Plaza until July 14