Gibneys swept up in soccer
AN OFFER of a free trip to Brazil’s Soccer World Cup is never what anyone expects when answering a phone call from the boss.
But that’s the jaw-dropping line Monto IGA manager Peter Gibney was asked just under a month ago.
“At first I thought it was a joke, but then I said yeah, of course,” Mr Gibney said, with a laugh.
So thanks to the Monto community, who thrust the little local IGA into first spot in a statewide competition to increase sales, Mr Gibney and son Matthew Gibney went to Brazil, returning last Wednesday from their South American adventure.
“Soccer is religion in Brazil, it was absolutely crazy,” Mr Gibney said.
“Every house had a Brazilian flag, every shop sold Brazilian soccer jerseys, the flag and the colours were everywhere,” he said.
“And the tourists were very obvious; you could pick out these tribes in the crowd wearing their nation’s colours.”
Mr Gibney and his son, with the IGA winners from every other Australian state, attended the Holland v Costa Rica semi-final, which ended in a penalty shoot-out.
“Costa Rica was just devastated when they lost, people were really so upset,” he said.
But he said it was when Brazil’s captain was yellow carded, followed by the home side’s devastating 7-1 loss to Germany, that the people’s incredible passion for the game was obvious.
“People on the street were crying and crying, they had tears rolling down their cheeks,” he said.
“It makes you realise that soccer really is the world’s game, not rugby league!”
He said while the poverty was obvious, and the pair had run-ins with anti-world cup demonstrators, the event showed what an amazing equaliser sport could be between rich and poor nations.
“You couldn’t help but get swept up in it all, being part of a moment in history was extraordinary,” Mr Gibney said of their nine-day journey.
FEVER PITCH: Monto IGA manager Peter Gibney and son Matthew Gibney at the Soccer World Cup in Brazil.