Brazil stars coming to town for 2012?
IPSWICH: Football fans in the town could be justified in chanting “It's just like watching Brazil” in the run-up to the 2012 Olympics.
COULD the Beautiful Game be coming to Ipswich in the run-up to the Olympics?
That was the intriguing prospect being dangled today after it was confirmed that a strong team of Brazilians are set to be based here in the run-up to the 2012 games.
Brazil's women's gymnastic team confirmed it is to base itself in the town during the run-up to the games - and they are set to bring their men's team and trampolinists with them.
The country's women gymnasts used the centre during the run-up to the World Championships at the O2 Arena in London.
Ipswich's Olympics team is now hoping to persuade Brazil's football authorities that Portman Road and the Town training ground at Playford Road is the ideal place for their pre-tournament training.
This year's gymnastics World Championships have been seen by many teams as the start of their preparations for 2012, with qualifying starting next year in Rotterdam.
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Brazil has also confirmed that they would like to use the facilities here again in 2010 as their warm up for Rotterdam. It is hoped that an international between the GB team and Brazil will be organised as part of this visit.
Although it was only the women's team who trained in Ipswich, Borough Council 2012 project manager John Stebbings said: “They liked the facilities so much they are persuading their male counterparts that the Ipswich hospitality and facilities are fantastic.”
More good news on the Brazilian front came when Ipswich held detailed discussions with Berenice Wilke, of the Brazilian Olympic Committee, she asked if Ipswich could host their trampoline team on its way from Brazil to the world championships taking place in Moscow in November.
Mr Stebbings added: “We will now work with the rest of Brazil's Olympic Committee to deliver other Olympic pre games training camps.
“Ipswich Town Football Club's training facilities are Olympic accredited - so of course we are now going to see if we can get the soccer team as well.”
Andy Wood, manager of the centre, said: “Ipswich Gymnastic Centre has always had a good reputation for hosting international visitors. We were able to offer the Brazilians a complete package.”
Football has been part of the Olympics since 1900 - 30 years before the first World Cup.
Today the tournament is restricted to 16 teams, which have to pre-qualify.
Teams are made up of young players - in each 18-man squad at least 15 players have to be under 23.
Amazingly Brazil has never won the Olympic Gold medal in football despite winning the World Cup a record five times.
Brazil is hosting the 2014 World Cup before taking on the 2016 Olympics - so the 2012 Olympics could be the ideal chance for young players to make a name for themselves.
Ipswich prepares for the Olympics:
BRAZIL is not the only country looking at Ipswich for pre-Olympic training.
The borough's Team Ipswich service, led by the town's Ambassador for Sport, Karen Pickering, has been in discussions with a number of Olympic teams about 2012 training camps, including athletes from Azerbaijan and Barbados.
A detailed facilities brochure was received by Olympic teams at the Beijing Games last year and has generated much interested.