The Landscape

Brazil's Gabriel Mayr - Paralympics, United Nations, Urece Sports and Culture for the Blind

February 21, 2021 Naveh Eldar / Gabriel Mayr Season 2 Episode 4
The Landscape
Brazil's Gabriel Mayr - Paralympics, United Nations, Urece Sports and Culture for the Blind
Show Notes Transcript

Gabriel Mayr of Brazil, has worked with the Paralympics, United Nations, and was a co-founder of Brazil's Urece Sports and Culture for the Blind, which has been recognized by the likes of FIFA.  Gabriel has studied and worked all over the world, with civil rights being at the root of what he does. He has impacted Brazil and the world through his work, yet is one of most humble people I've met. His story is one that shows the power of sharing knowledge and experience across borders and cultures.

Video of 5-a-side soccer (Blind Soccer): Here 
Urece Sports and Culture for the Blind Website: Here 
Mundo Para Esporte Podcast: Here

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Naveh Eldar  0:16  
Welcome to the landscape, a podcast to shed light on the people, programs and businesses that are changing the landscape for individuals with any type of disability. I'm your host Naveh Eldar. Today's guest is Gabriel Meyer of Brazil. Gabriel has worked with the Paralympics United Nations that was a co founder of Brazil's your se, sports and culture for the blind, which has been recognized by the likes of FIFA Football. And he has studied and worked all over the world, with civil rights being at the root of what he does. Gary pate was the executive producer of this episode. I say that jokingly. But this is the third episode that I've done based on connections made by Gary, who, if you remember, did an episode on the US Paralympic wheelchair rugby team back in season one. So thank you, Gary, as always, for connecting me with such amazing people and programs. But this episode starts with Gabriel explaining how he first got involved with blind soccer, also called Five aside soccer.

Gabriel Mayr  1:27  
Just before university, I had two friends who are blind, and the they were playing at the time at the Rio de Janeiro team of blind football. And once I went to the University, I started studying at night. So I had this the whole day free at the time. And I was inviting them inviting them to do things and they were busy with loads of things in the data. At some point they said, Look, if you have nothing to do, and you want to hang out with us, you could come to the to the trains, you could be the goalkeeper on fibrocytes soccer. And then you could help because we're needing one goalkeeper, we can't have the full match on the trainings. So you can hang out with us there. And very soon, it was clear that I was a good friend, but not a good goalkeeper. And as I was studying to be the teacher, I started to, to help the coach to train the other goalkeepers and then to do more and more and, but didn't start from a motivation. And this, I think that was really important to me. Because I didn't look for people with disabilities. I said, I want to work with them, I want to support them or anything like this, it started going to play volleyball with my friends. Right. And from that point, I think that the perspective was not that I'm I'm sighted so I could help them or give something. Actually, it only happened because it was a, like the worst player in the pitch. And so it kind of turned the perspective. And so yeah, it wasn't an inspirational issue. It happened.

Naveh Eldar  3:05  
And then where did you go from there? Because I know, eventually you ended up going abroad. So what happened between that period of time to you going abroad the first time?

Gabriel Mayr  3:17  
Well, these Institute's they work is the one of the biggest in Brazil for the blind. And they, they would organize some competitions, some sports tournaments, from time to time with the National Organization of sports for the blind. So I started helping to organize chess tournaments. And I'm a bit geeky, so at the time, 2001 2002, I had nothing much to do to organize a chess tournament because not it's exciting, but in a slow pace. So I started to upload the results live online. And this was kind of breakthrough. And if I started to talk about the guy who was putting the scores live, and at the time, he couldn't access scores. And then the National Organization says pay attention to me, inviting me to participate in some competitions and international competitions. And in 2004, they invited me to go to a week long exchange in Greece. So ongoing soccer. So I went there. At some point, Brazil had to do a training for everyone. And the guys from England the like one of the students he really liked and he said that was the best training he he did to the point playing his football and spoke to his teacher who invited me to go to England for a year. So I was a volunteer at the Royal National College for the blind, and also an assistant coach of the national blind football team. So spent 2005 2006 in England, and yeah, and then life went really in a different direction that clearly I didn't expect

Naveh Eldar  5:01  
So How surprising was that? I mean, you just you go to England, right? So now you're just speaking a foreign language in the center of Europe, kind of like, you know, this this major, major city, and all of a sudden they're like, can you assist us on our Paralympic team? Were you like in shock? Were you? You know, were you like really confident in yourself? What was that like?

Gabriel Mayr  5:24  
Well, I, I have think that I had the benefit of the years of the youth. So I didn't know really much about what to expect and knew that was a better opportunity than what I had in Brazil. And actually was the opposite because I'm from Rio de Janeiro, which is one of the biggest cities in the world. And I moved to Hereford, which is a small town in England, countryside in the in the water with whales. And it was really challenging sometimes, like, yeah, I wasn't brave enough to pick up the phone, because it didn't know if it could speak to someone in English without seeing the person so I would only text people. But it gave me the perspective that I went to play ball with my friends, but their coach, she was a world champion in the sport, and seeing other people with a longer career in the sport and playing in with sports for the blind, sometimes with less knowledge than I have, it gave me the perspective that I was very fortunate to be in the right place with the right coach, to have a potential to see World Championships, to see things live. That gave me some experience. At the time I was 20 years, 21 years old, I was playing and was in the same ballgame of people with 30 odd years or 40 years old. So this was challenging in some times, because there was lots of life that they had, I didn't maturity in knowing how to cope with situations, but was really much about being a sponge and understanding the differences of the walk in here. And in England, how the abilities, the resources that you have in different scales in the north of the globe and yourself, and how the attitude changes as well and policies, and to be able to navigate in two worlds. And also to see differences and also some similarities, or sometimes strings that here in Brazil, better down then in developing countries. I think this was the biggest takeover that I had from this year, to see that they had huge structure. But myself as a professional, I could see myself much more equipped to adapt to react to problems. And so from then my colleagues in England had at the time, so getting to know that there is no perfect place enough you can you can get good things from here and there. And myself personally trying to get the best of both worlds to do my path. This was the best from the zoo.

Naveh Eldar  8:13  
So actually want to talk about that for a second. I lived in Israel for almost seven years, right? And I'm coming from the United States. So there was a huge culture difference. And England to Brazil is a huge culture difference. Right? So it's exactly like you said that there's there's pluses and minuses on both sides. So what were some of the bigger differences that you had to adapt to? And what were some things from their, the way they ran things or from their culture that you said, I want to take this and and bring it to my work everywhere, including Brazil?

Gabriel Mayr  8:52  
Well, I think that there was lots of having the mindset of giving the best structure for the work. So let's say we would travel with my team here in Brazil with two kids or three quick kids to a tournament and was okay would play five, seven games, you use it twice, and it's okay. They will travel with 14 because every game if they needed to change, use kit one and two, two, they will have and they would plan to have the best available professionals equipment, structure, catering, and in here, not always I think that lot. Like we were good on doing the essential and leaving it to whatever happens in the last minutes, which is good too, that you have creative solutions, but sometimes the lack of structure, you lack resources. So yeah, I try to spend more time on planning and forecasting all the resources that will be needed. To a project to trade for whatever. And this was a big learning because as we say, in Brazil the know if you have a say in English but sometimes I felt that they were trying to kill a fly with a cannonball. So okay, so, so yeah, but sometimes is important as well. So you don't have anything, any distractions you just do your things because you all the problems or the flies have been killed.

Naveh Eldar  10:29  
And in my second question to that is, I'm sure you've probably seen the movie, Rising Phoenix. Yeah. Have you seen that on the Paralympics? And so that really highlighted ironically, we had the Paralympic Games in England. And then four years later, the Paralympic Games were in Brazil. And it was two very, very different levels of respect that were given to the games to put it, you know, politely. So culturally, what is the culture like in Brazil, for the disability community in general, you know, not even compared to anywhere else just from because you you've lived all over. And you've definitely traveled all over. But so when you look at Brazil, like where are you guys at as far as like disability rights and support?

Gabriel Mayr  11:21  
Well, I think that Brazil has. If we think about with the Olympic perspective, we have a Paralympic Committee that is very well founded, and does not reflect the status of our Olympic clubs and Paralympic movement in the country they live does reflect the status of persons with disabilities in the country. So I think that here in Brazil, people will have a really good attitude, with someone who has its reality, people will go out of their line and change the like, you can see quite often, someone just stopping the car, parking the car, just to help someone to cross the street. You see this from time to time you see it on. But you won't see the same person spending some money to put a ramp in his business, if he's not Obi. So we say that the good attitude in here, and to the moment that you have to reach your pocket. And in a very, in a medical perspective of stability, you'll have to help and this person who stops the car, if it was good, because he stopped the car. But he wouldn't see these as an obligation on in his business, that he has to have a ramp or a prayer manual. So we have this particularity in here. I think that through the games, the Olympians have a really, really good public perception in Brazil. I think that leaving things to the last minute, and sorting it somehow is something that we do. So watching the movie, I don't think that it was so close to not happening because somehow from somewhere, they would find some money because we do like these because no one would afford to be the politician or the person who didn't sign for the guys, which is to have the games. So this would be a political and social cost really, really big cost for clever. So of course, Andrew and the guys, they had to do the pressure, which is kind of part of the show. But in the last minute it is sorted out, you don't know where is the morning money coming from you don't know who is doing this, but somehow has to be done and will be done. So which is a pity, because sometimes this is the kind of the fly that would be great to have the resources planned before and not having these stress. Because Yeah, it was something that is well portrayed in the movie. But if you're like walking around the city and my friends, my colleagues speaking to me, no one was really talking about the possibility of it not happening was like close of people who were very engaged with it. Because everyone knew that. Okay, it will happen. We don't know how but it will. Yeah, we're not really good on reaching the pocket as a business owner or as a country organizing early beginnings.

Naveh Eldar  14:35  
And so you returned from England and then you were was a co founder of a sports group. Can you tell us about that that organization that you co founded?

Gabriel Mayr  14:47  
Yeah, I can talk a lot about dresses. So please stop me. Yeah,

Naveh Eldar  14:53  
just give us the name again.

Gabriel Mayr  14:55  
Would I see you or etc. So, these lines To that we were when I was at university, who had the the players, this incident was from the federal government and was some, like they have a hospital, they have a school, Teachers Training in everything in rehabilitation. And also they have the sports teams. And the teams were not a priority, which much reason. So as we were doing the the sports, we wanted to go to more tournaments to have better resources. We wanted to have our own team. So yeah, it was part of her enterpreneurship course, I was trying, I went asking how to register the organization, which we needed to have to be in the tournament's. And I went out of the internship course with a business plan, which I had no idea of what was it. But it gave us a really good path being this course with loads of for profit companies that were starting many startups, we will talk off, so we'll do this and you'll give us money. And they will say no, no, we don't have, it's not that because we have, we're for profit that we have all the money that you don't have. And we started doing this temporarily. That was not because we did something cool that people would invest in us. So we start with this mean mindset, we understood the power that we've had with communications. So before having the first team, the first board, the first training session, we had, at the time, the best website, on sports for the blind in Brazil. So we received criticism from the National Sports organization saying that we're talking too much and doing nothing because people wouldn't reach their website. And in three days, we could build or reputation and start to work at the time was to be the best team. We wanted to win everything to be everyone to be professional eyes. Like the coaches. Now we graduated, so we wanted to work in the field. So we wanted to be paid for it. And the players, they wanted to have sponsors and and we couldn't do it in the Federal Institute. So most we started to do it. The learning curve was waist deeper than that. But we have our Lincoln's we have a few Paralympic medals. But we had a really big turning point in 2009. When we did the first like two things happened in 2009. We did the first female blind soccer team in Brazil. So it was a really cool project. We traveled with the girls like they love in three months, how to play, they went to Germany, and they became champions of the tournament. And then we came back with sponsorship to to build new teams. And we went to three regions of the country to train to have girls playing. And then the National Federation played against it, and the project never took off. Then we started to learn that besides the prejudice about disabilities, girls were also suffering from double prejudice on gender, and disability. Right. So we're excited to understand that perhaps we could do more than just get the medals like a project like this, we could talk about gender, about so many issues, that the girls also faced, not only disabilities, and also at the same year, Rio was awarded with the Paralympic Games. So tons of money started to be invested in elite athletes. So we couldn't compete to to have the best athletes. But we could compete to have a different perspective on sport. So as a true with with acid, we started to be part of the sports for social change network here in Brazil, is the network of the biggest NGOs on sports and for social change. A couple of years later, I was invited to be on the board of this association and steering steering board. So I was not only learning about disability anymore, because as a board member, we have to think about gender, about race, about age, and so on. So many aspects of inclusion, in the same sense be working with human rights through sports. We became part of the social projects of the FIFA foundation. So we implemented a project for FIFA or the World Cup. And we started to work with international governments. So I went in 2014 to USA to do a State Department, Change program, leadership program that was very instrumental for my development and networking in skills. But we're still one big dream that was have our own facilities that we had the goal on the near on the revised business plan to achieve in 2023. And way earlier in the wake of the Paralympic Games 2016, we found it or on sports court. Enough It was so which is outside Rio in the greater Rio area. So it's a fully official blind football court that in a very poor area of the state, and that we can now reach people that are further away. Not the best phrase construction, but they were really far away from the original dream of racing, of having the best athletes. But also in the beginning, it was a group of friends. And now we have some kids, I don't know, seven years old. And like they have a sense of belonging, of receiving the kids from legacy of impact of a program of having reason to go out of home and receiving resources and in order references. And I'm not on the daily life of raising more, but it's really beautiful to see that. Right now. What I see is not what I was dreaming off. It's not what I left in 2016. Because for many people now it's something new that I can't completely say, because it's an organization that is evolving in is way bigger than any of the founding members. So this is I think that Yeah, we were so young, when we did that I was 22. And people, like the best advice that we had was to close it before we had that. So So yeah, to see that, that we have a strong work and changing lives. Okay, not changing lives, but giving tools for people to more resources for people to change live their lives. So to see that is pretty amazing. And I am really holding myself to speak too much about races. Because it's because it's really, I think, is really beautiful, how we managed to speak about disability, but not never fund raising or positioning ourselves as the big organization that needed support. And in a medical model of disability, we could clearly show how professional we were how we were really good in what we did, and how the budget wouldn't close itself. Because the world it is is how it is but we're doing selling Braille venues to, to have a be a social business and be more sustainable. And this and that. And if someone supported us, we could pretty much guarantee that we'll have spontaneous media appears. And the they would have sometimes tax rebate or something like these that we did. So it was never a donation because people wanted to to help the blind, we always were very cautious not to replicate his perspective that's that is very present in Brazil that a blind person should be in the corner of the street, begging for money, we as an organization would go without a sponsorship to a tournament instead of having a penny given for that. So we always could sell ourselves and not helping to sell better the organization. But I think the message that we sent that is a very positive one that is not because we are organization for the abilities of all persons with the lead is that we should set anything and we can be a bit as is sometimes as a

Naveh Eldar  23:57  
as awesome. I just wanted to you spoke about it. But I wanted to emphasize to my listeners that this organization that you helped found was recognized by the United Nations by the Corporate Social Responsibility program of FIFA, which is unbelievable. And the United Nations International children's emergency fund. And so you got a lot of international recognition for this program. You also helped establish the sports for social change in street Football World network. I believe you spoke a little bit about that. So what is that?

Gabriel Mayr  24:38  
Yeah, that's exactly setting those networks more heading odessey to join those. So because those networks, when we joined, they didn't have any organization of sports for people with disabilities. So it was kind of a guys. I guess that what we do, it's also changing. lives and also in sports. It's also football. It's not soccer, but it's, it's kind of I think that you should look at us. So was this part of conveyancing those networks that had no representation of visibility, the time that we belong there. So the State football network is a global network of NGOs, working in sport as a tool for social change. It's amazing anything that anyone interested in sports or social change, just having a look about on the projects. In the website, you can just travel the world seeing the best examples of sport being years into youth in the right way. And the Brazilian sports for social sports for social change network is a younger organization, I had a bigger role in the US, I was part of the board. It's basically an organization that sometimes you have companies and the Olympic Committee or soccer clubs or professional sports clubs, and they're well represented, represented, they have the best lawyers, the best professionals, and you as a sector trying to do sports for social change, they have challenges that it's important or impossible for you, as an individual or one organization to tackle. So one of the main things that I was part of, we have a tax rebate law in Brazil, that if you have a sports project, instead of paying the taxes, X amount of taxes, a company can invest in this project. So they basically don't spend the money that was made taxes anyway. But they invest in this project, and they can have their logo promoted. So is the government incentivizing sports. But there were some regulations on that, that made it possible for small organizations to reach these money. Because was a law that was made listening the lawyers from the professional clubs, the lawyers from the Olympic Committee, so us as a sector, working together to discuss and sit together. So yeah, like, each one of us, we cannot be one of the best lawyers. But all of us together, we can get funding and part of this funding to be used to have these lawyer making it possible for us to reach these funds, and also exchange knowledge. So last year was working with UN data for three months. So now probably, in the first semester, do some presentation for all of them about opportunities that I learned that are possible for organizations to to access through the UN system. So it's you have the knowledge exchange, as I'm doing, but also advocacy and lobbying to try to have the laws and regulations and governments to support our work, because we cannot do without the government as a sector. But it has to be done in a in a nice way. Again, if you asked about the guy who went to play ball with the friends, I would never, ever imagined that I would be discussing revelations of tax of laws, or later on 13 International documents on human rights. I didn't know that I was doing human rights to 2009 2010 when I couldn't get the familiar blind soccer project I had, then, so to speak, some people said, Look, this is gender is a gender issue, this human rights read this, read that. And then I started to understand. So this process of being in a network and, and knowing that most of the challenges that I face, as a organization are individual, and not the first one to do, I'm not that special, with the first one to face something. So I truly believe in these war in networks and exchanging knowledge as we're doing here. And getting to know a bit about like it was listening or episodes and knowing how the sector is going there. And there's older podcasts as well. Nowadays that you can just have an understand that you're not as that special, that people had good solutions to problems that can help you. So I think that within that was, this was the main thing.

Naveh Eldar  29:45  
So you're very humble because you say you're not that special. You're right. Nobody has invented the wheel in a very long time. But the things that you've accomplished and help establish have been outstanding, there aren't many people That worked for a foreign Paralympic team for the United Nations, you know, create their own Sports Network. So you're doing some amazing things. One of the things that you touched on very briefly earlier, was that you also had been, I don't know, I can't remember how it happened, but you had been given a mentor it here in the United States. So what was what was that mentorship program? How did you get into it? And then what did you learn by that?

Gabriel Mayr  30:32  
14 in the State Department, they had to have a sports or community program, they were in in fine sports leaders for eSports for social change, shear in Brazil, and was an open application process. And I applied to to be part of it. And they would match you will have few days in DC, having leadership, training and social media training and concepts about social sports and how some programs were doing either. And, and then we would go for three weeks to be with a mentor. So I was signed with Matt Lucas, from us, ABA, US association of blind athletes in Colorado Springs. So I was there for three weeks, working at the US ABA offices, and leading and I was hosted the US Olympic Training Center in there. So it's kind of diving in the US Olympics. At the time, I had never lived for a period of time in search facilities. So it was great to walk after work, from wrestling, to swimming. And then you go to different athletes, then Judo, just see some of the best athletes in the world all around and hanging out at either asking about what I was doing that and what was my thing. So this experience was very instrumental. I think to understand the mentality, I think that the way that we trained to treat the athletes is very different from what happens in Colorado Springs. In short, I think perhaps what's true struck me the most, we pretty much use it to nurse the athletes. So they care of what they are eating, or if they are going to sleep at time or not. And so there's you kind of learn in the the university that is a role that you have as a coach, and for me was shocking that they could go to the dining room. And they would have like free ice cream, free sodas, and they could get all the food they wanted. And I was like, Okay, how does it work? And so yeah, if we are overweight, we're kids. So we know that.

Unknown Speaker  33:05  
Oh, wow.

Gabriel Mayr  33:06  
So we have all of these. And sometimes we should have treaties, because we spend a lot of calories. But if we put on weight, we're cut from the program. We're cut from the national team, and we know that someone wants a place. So giving the responsibility for to the athletes. This was something that was a big learning for me. When I went there, I was eager to support us to have their blind soccer team. And was another learning that I had was that Matt Lucas, my mentor said, Look, we have a strategic plan. We have we do gobo at the Paralympics, and we need the medals in gobo. So we get our funding. So we're not doing football because it's out of about Bullseye eventually. Okay, we may do it. But it's not our goal, because we would need 1520 years to make it happen in this level. So we can't afford to go out of the way. So of course, now the games are going to be in us. So you have a slot and probably will have a team. So now this is getting traction. So in my post exchange project, I was doing a few videos on teaching coaches how to do the sport. But yeah, so there's the differences. I think, I think Brazil, probably one manager would say, look, we have this guy skilled in this for that we don't have. let's organize something let's kick off in here and then we see how it goes. But somehow we won't miss this opportunity. So I'm not sure if I completely agree that opportunities should be missed. But I surely appreciate how the leadership can stick to the plan. And this was a learning to eat right? I like to be in those different situations and see different management styles and perspectives on spas and everything. So, yeah, those kinds of learning. I think that's a very rich I have,

Naveh Eldar  35:06  
did I read correctly that you also coached the first blind skier in Brazil

Gabriel Mayr  35:13  
is the blind skier was Marcos, a good friend of mine, he now is a YouTuber. In Brazil, he was one of the two guys who instead of me, so I went to do my masters in Belgium, in the Czech Republic. And through my master's, I was doing the first workshops on blind soccer in the Czech Republic. So and my, my promoter of my studies, he was the coach of the Czech team of ski for the blind. And then I was speaking to him saying, look, if I'm going to teach you how to do soccer, maybe we should have one of our athletes to, to come over to the Czech Republic to to be the first Brazilian to the ski. And she thought this would be amazing. So yeah, so he went there. So we had a ski camp for all the students of my class, and some of the graduation in Czech Republic. And, and Mark was was there so I was together with him, like I wasn't fully the coach, because, of course, I wasn't a skier myself at the time. But I was working closely with the Czech student that was with him. So she would show the exercises, she was learning how to work with blind athletes, she she has loads of knowledge on ski. So we were both who coaching him. And was, was really impressive, because with the skills that he has from playing football playing soccer, the learning curve was very, very steep. And everyone was really, really impressed with him. So like, they were used, like the first day to teach the guys how to fall and don't be afraid of falling in this No. And was quite funny because they were saying okay, macros now you need to fall. fall like this season. No, no, just fall on the ground. Like, just Oh, yeah. So he just kept on you're not afraid? No, I play football. It's, it is nothing, right? And it was okay, so maybe we should go for tomorrow. So he was getting things done, really. And of course, he had loads of body awareness that helped it a lot. So yeah, it was a really good experience. But the most important thing, like he's not in a Paralympic level, or is not with this explanation. But it is good that now, like I've been in many presentations with him, that he would just go to the audience and us. Okay, in here, it is wrong. And you would have like 100 people. How many of you had the opportunity to ski in the snow? You'd have like one or two? And said, Yeah, I had. So it's not about disability. I had the means I had this nose, I could I could skate you didn't have this? No. So you could. So it's not that I'm blind, I can't do things. So it's all about having means the tools the accessibility. So this was something that I think was the most important part of the of the project was coming back here to to show that through this project, that the buyer shouldn't be the disability. But in this case was the lack of snow and skis. So when you when you talk this like, of course, you're much more familiar with the concept. But every time that we had this discussion, you can see the eureka moments in the audience, because people literally never have to worry about its ability in this perspective. So these aspects on how it's used in Brazil, I think this is the most important aspect of this project. In my my opinion.

Naveh Eldar  39:11  
That's a great story. And it's also hilarious how he managed to get the Learn how to ski. So you just got back from doing some work with the United Nations. You just got back in Brazil, where were you in? Were you in Ireland work? Well,

Gabriel Mayr  39:26  
I've been after the games. We build the court that was speaking before. And I was feeling that at the moment I was many times we portrayed in news and things that we did in stories and some form that was doing something for the blind, not that was part of a team. It was not making me super happy. I was I was feeling that was would be good to have someone with disabilities in this position. For a better representation, I don't know if we were sending the right messages. I was also in a personal note, wishing to have the work, you know, more global context, not 4080 persons that would so was directly reaching. So I applied for the UNESCO chair in 2008 in Ireland, so I was working for two years in there before, so it was working with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, international documents, who, and all sorts of international organizations, saying what they wrote and trying to advocate have the abilities included in sports for people with disabilities included in those documents and perspectives, trying to advocate on how those documents and decisions Sustainable Development Goals, how they were also speaking about is for Cisco tivity, especially for people with disabilities. So we're two years diving into that. So we're kind of promoting this microcosmos for acid being teleported to thinking globally. And which was a challenge, because it's a different time different language, not only English, but also kind of English that we use it to to use was very far away from that. So took me a while to understand that what I was doing, once I did, so was time to come back to Brazil. And I was forced to, and for almost two years back to Brazil. And in the end of last year, I was invited to be a cost consultant to the United Nations design department. So yeah, I was working remotely because of COVID in everything. But again, trying to think about with COVID. And all this, this moment how the next steps for the field of sports and physical activity should go to to make sure that no one is left behind how we can use digital technologies in a way that we leave no one behind, but not only persons with disabilities that may have sustainability challenges. But if you think in a very underprivileged community that won't have internet access, how you can reach them. So encourage people to be more active to to do more sports. So was a huge challenge to think, like to set a meeting, you have to think about parity, in gender in geographical location in sectors because you have to listen to governments to public sector, international organizations, NGOs, individuals, how you mix and match people to that gave me a perspective that, again, I would never imagine that they would have one day about or sector about and, or sector instabilities in sport. It's great to see that the challenge, just a big, but there's a lot of great things being done. So like, I remember the there was a week that I was trying to find projects and people to join an event in Africa and Asia. So I was diving in problems that were being solved that I would never think about them as problems. It's pretty amazing that I had this opportunity was of course was a job. But for me was way more learning. And I know that people see it all the time. But surely, like I was paid to dive into the sector of the war, to understand challenges that would never stop to think about or to dive into giving me a much making way more equipped to think about challenges in here and elsewhere. So So yeah, this is the path and where I am right now,

which sometimes is tricky to find a job in here because those discussions are not being done everywhere. So to find the job. Sometimes you need a very specific kind of employer. But you're handling. I don't know if I would be happier doing something very low what I imagined that it was going to do when I joined the university.

Naveh Eldar  44:44  
I have to say I laughed because I know your resume, which and we're nearing the end of this episode and people have heard your your resume as well which is unbelievable, right? You've like you've worked in, you know, you've been in the United States, South America. Africa, Europe, you know, working for the United Nations that's touching every corner of the globe. But like the first thing on your resume is PE teacher, right? And so for us Americans, you know, we think of like a gym teachers like, you know, your middle school gym teacher, not not somebody who's working for the United Nations helping to, you know, fighting for civil rights and things. So that's, that's amazing. Where do you see yourself? Because you're, you're so forward thinking it seems like like, you're all that's, that's one of your skills. I mean, I hope you realize that everybody else I'm sure realizes that that one of your skills is is how progressive you are. And you're thinking, so where What are you thinking about for like the next year to five years?

Gabriel Mayr  45:44  
Just before on what you touched before on my resume, I have a good friend. And you know that the good friends are telling the truth to you. And he said that I'm like the duck, the duck, because the duck can fly, they can swim, and that they can can can run. He won't do anything, right. But he does a bit of everything. So yeah, often I feel like that. But and yeah, and when I was saying that, I would never imagine when I started, I would see myself as a soccer coach. And I would never imagine. But in the same way, I'm proud to be a teacher, and I kind of miss being a coach to being a teacher. But now back to your question. I think that now we have loads of challenges, to have the road running again, after the vaccines. And in COVID. Being back on track, I think that it was loads of learning for every organization, coach and professionals on the possibilities of working remotely and having online and more broad reach with the work. So this is something that we will be discussing soon. I think that now you won't think only about the class that is next to you. But this is also posing a big risk, because there's the digital gap, that digital divide, that can only get further and further. And there's a war that have been so many people saying that, so I am afraid of quoting the right person. But that says that it is not good for everyone is not good for me. So I think that we have to think that we will adapt, we will have more resources and more tools in our toolbox to do great projects to to do more change. But it shouldn't be at the expense of some being missed out. So I think that this is a challenge. And in the same perspective, I think that more and more as a sector, we will have to think about funding, what should be funded. So we have professional sports clubs, and sometimes elite sports having way more funding than the grassroots sports. I know that he was a grassroots sports deeply rooted in volunteer work, so on how you can have it sustainable, and with the best deliverables possible. Like in Brazil, we don't have this culture of volunteerism in, in sports. So how we can make sure that those who need the most will have the best services? Because, yeah, what would change the life of the Michael Phelps or the of the big athletes to have, I don't know, an extra 5000. I hate to put numbers on names, but sometimes they will have more money to have the biggest contract and so on and in a way that is not sustainable, and that more and more professional clubs will engage with grassroots and community sports, and how in this movement that is happening. You You see, all the major leagues are involved with social sports. I think that us working its abilities in sports for people with disabilities. We have to make sure that we knock the doors and we can we show that we belong to that to this movement that we need resources to do a walk though, to have the support for people with disabilities having the resources and funding to be done in the right way. And for everyone not leaving anyone behind. So I think that those are the challenges that we I can see as a sector at the moment. But I don't know the world is changing so much. If you ask me the same early last year,

I'm pretty

sure that would mean something Lisa,

Naveh Eldar  50:00  
right. Okay, so I always end my show with a few personal questions. So one is I just learned before we started recording, did you have your own podcast that you have you said about 10 episodes out right now. So, so tell us a little bit about that. What is the theme? What? Who are the hosts and, and what's the name of it.

Gabriel Mayr  50:24  
So the podcast is called mondo parasport. I do it with two colleagues, two co hosts. One is Ricardo. He is a teacher. He played a bit of wheelchair rugby himself. He beforehand, serving DAX and he was a judo athlete, and Letitia. She was a swimmer from the Brazilian Paralympic team. She is a Pan American medalist. And so we have a good mix of the two of them. One who is a professor, Leticia, she's an athlete. And myself, I'm very curious. So when I came back to Brazil, and I like to listen to podcasts, I like to have conversations. And I know this conversation that I had with you, I never had before, and I wouldn't have with a friend. So it's good to have and share those conversations. So I wanted to do it. And there's a producing agents of podcasts that was not so far from here from home. So in that, there's opposite Look, I wanted to know that you have a few sports podcasts, we should have one for about Paralympic sports. So we did so and they accepted. So all the tough part of it is mixing in getting the levels of the sound and all the technical stuff. We don't have to do. And they publish it on Spotify and all the platform's. And we do the cool part that is just finds awesome people and have cool conversations and learn things. And yeah, so I truly believe that listening to other people's conversations, you just get more knowledge. And it's like podcasts. So I was diving into it. Yeah.

Naveh Eldar  52:12  
And then what are two facts about Brazil that Americans wouldn't know.

Gabriel Mayr  52:17  
Brazil is also the only country in the in South America, taking Portuguese. So most of Latin Americans would speak Spanish. So we don't speak Spanish in here. And our capital is not when it's I think that many times people would say, so. You're from Brazil, Buenos Aires. So now it's Brazil in the capital.

Naveh Eldar  52:41  
So do Brazilians travel to Portugal and vice versa? Do the Portuguese travel to Brazil? A lot? Do you have a lot, a lot of tourists from there because of the language?

Gabriel Mayr  52:52  
Yeah, you

have a lot. And you have like, now there's loads of Brazilians leaving Portugal, like in Rio de Janeiro, we were the capital of Brazil. So there was loads of loads of Portuguese families went there. So so you can see loads of restaurants and families, and it's like, one of the biggest football clubs is from the Portuguese colony. So So yeah, there's, there's this connection is still nowadays is very active.

Naveh Eldar  53:19  
That's very cool. And I know that. So. Look, sir, it has been fantastic speaking to you, you know, Gary pate, told me that I had to speak to you and anything that Gary tells me I listened to, because he's so awesome. I'm super impressed. Super, really motivated by you. You're doing a lot of great things. I love that you think, just bigger and bigger and bigger. That's something that I also try to do just in my life as well. So it was a big inspiration for us. So thank you for coming on the show and taking the time. No,

Gabriel Mayr  53:56  
I would like to thank you. And Gary, it was really, I think that this mod is good to speak how I've met Gary, I don't know, maybe 10 years ago. And when I got his message, I'm not really, really active on facebook, facebook. So is he talking to the right person like this so long and wide? So I say, Are you sure and then he Yeah, he's amazing.

Naveh Eldar  54:25  
I'm going to put lots of links in the description below, including links to videos so you can see five besides soccer being played. Make sure to subscribe to this podcast, leave a review and give a star rating if you're listening on Apple podcast. In the next episode, I speak to Hannah sensor, who was born with cystic hygroma, a condition that left her with hundreds of cysts growing in her head and neck. Today Hannah is a disability advocate and fitness influencer who goes by the username of feeding 250 This. I'm excited to share this interview, where you'll learn, laugh, and hopefully move a little bit more. I'll see you then.

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