The 5th Military World Games
By Dialogo October 01, 2010
Tânia Maria Pereira Ribeiro, known as Tânia Maranhão, and Andréa dos Santos, known as Maycon, were worried. Both had played their last match for the Brazilian women’s national soccer team in 2008 and money was starting to become tight. Then an unexpected invitation to join the Brazilian Navy arrived.
“In military life, you have to respect the schedules a lot,” said defender and Sailor Tânia Maranhão. “On the team, you also have a schedule, but you can arrive five, 10 minutes late. Not here. You have to arrive five or 10 minutes early. Nowadays I am used to it, and my family is very proud that I am a member of the military.” The transition from civilian to military life for elite athletes is an old practice in several Eastern European countries. It was especially common during the Soviet era, when Olympic athletes could not play professionally.
In Brazil, this transition is relatively recent, and has gained momentum after Rio de Janeiro was chosen to host the fifth Military World Games, also dubbed “The Peace Games” by organizers. The games, which will take place July 6-24 , 2011, will be hosted for the first time by a Latin American nation. Previous games were held in Europe and Asia.
“We learned a lot of things, like discipline and respect for hierarchy,” said the left midfielder of the Brazilian Navy’s women’s soccer team, Maycon, who was also attracted to the competition by the favorable conditions for training and by the good infrastructure offered by the military. She added, jokingly, “The best part is that the salary is deposited in our account every month, with no delay either.”
Vice Adm. Bernardo Gambôa, head of the Brazilian delegation to the games, believes this investment in elite athletes is worthwhile. He anticipates that the level of the competition will gain recognition from the wider public and he is optimistic about Brazil’s performance. “Our goal is to finish in one of the top three spots on the medal chart,” he said.
Investment in infrastructure and modernization
The changes Brazil has implemented for the fifth Military World Games are not limited to turning elite athletes into corporals and sergeants. The country has invested 1.2 billion reais (about $800 million) in the games, partly for the construction of housing for participants from more than 100 countries.
The new 17-building complex includes 408 units spread over three villas built for the Armed Forces. Vila Verde will be given to the Army, Vila Branca will be given to the Navy, and Vila Azul will be given to the Air Force. Each of the buildings has six stories, with four 110-square-meter apartments per floor, in addition to common areas for events and a multi-sport playing center.
“After the Military World Games, all of the apartments in the three villas will become functional residences for Brazilian military personnel and will also house athletes in 2016, when Rio de Janeiro will host the Summer Olympic Games,” said 1st Lt. Frederico Hopfinger Leite, the civil engineer responsible for supervising the construction of Vila Verde.
Funding provided by the federal government will also be used to improve security and transportation to meet the needs of the influx of military delegations that will participate in the games.
To escort the convoys of the various delegations, more than 90 Harley-Davidson motorcycles were acquired to expand the Army, Navy, and Air Force fleets that will provide security for VIP transportation. Lt. Col. Alfredo de Andrade Bottino, commander of the 1st Guards Battalion, noted that 20 of the motorcycles were assigned to his battalion to help maintain law and order, including monitoring roads and areas where training and official competitions will take place.
Gen. Jamil Megid Júnior, the coordinator of the planning committee for the games, explained that the operational communications network was also expanded and modernized through the purchase of new equipment to create mobile networks that will be used at competition venues.
A legacy for 2014 and 2016
In addition to the benefits for athletes at the military games, the upcoming event will modernize facilities and serve as operational training for maintaining security at Rio de Janeiro’s future international competitions.
“We want to leave — and we are going to leave — a legacy for the future, not only in the structural area of building and construction,” said Gen. Megid Júnior. “This event will serve as a mission, bringing together the agencies responsible for public safety, the Armed Forces, and the community of Rio de Janeiro itself, so as to operate in an integrated manner.” Gen. Megid Júnior explained that the military games will be an opportunity for coordination across each institution’s security systems at the municipal, state and federal levels, and it will help the Armed Forces integrate their security protocol.
“We have been conducting, and will continue to conduct, integrated exercises to be ready for missions in July 2011 and to rehearse for 2014 and 2016,” he added.
Besides the sports facilities that were built especially for the Pan-American Games in 2007, major military centers are being renovated, such as the Centro de Educação Física Almirante Adalberto Nunes, or CEFAN (Admiral Adalberto Nunes Physical Education Center), to be used by athletes during the upcoming Military World Games.
Navy Rear Adm. Fernardo César da Silva Mota, commander of CEFAN and president of the Navy Sports Commission, said administration of the 20 sports will be divided among the Army, administering 10 sports; the Navy with six; and the Air Force with four. He added that the two official competitions that will take place at CEFAN are the naval pentathlon and taekwondo.
There will be about 7,000 athletes and 2,000 delegates from more than 100 countries at the games. Brazil will participate with 250 athletes and will be represented in all sports, including shooting. One of the members of that Brazilian military team is Army Lt. André Luiz Tertuliano dos Santos, a specialist in rifle shooting. “A while ago, I would have said that our team did not have a chance to win a medal. Now, with the acquisition of new equipment, I am more optimistic, and I think that we can win something,” he noted.
Another fundamental factor contributing to the country’s success in the Military World Games is the level of interaction between the branches of the Armed Forces.
“The persons responsible for the teams exchange information and experiences,” Commander Marcos Vinícius Lúcio, head of the Social Communication Section of the Navy Sports Commission, said of the manner by which the three branches follow the guidance of the Brazilian Military Sports Commission. He added, “The common goal is to lead our country to a great participation at the Rio 2011 fifth Military World Games.”