The ‘Copinha’, the gold rush

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01/07/2022 at 08:00 CET

The start of the football year in Brazil is the Sao Paulo Junior Cup, the traditional ‘Copinha’, which this year reaches its 51st edition. A sprint tournament, of attrition, played on pitch too many times in very precarious conditions, in which the finalists will face nine games in 21 days.

And all in extreme weather conditions in the middle of the tropical summer in January with the combination of soaring temperatures and biblical downpours. It is an allegory of ‘root soccer’, that is to say, the football of yesteryear practiced in any circumstance and this drives torcedores crazy who hate everything that represents modernity.


There is no youth tournament of these characteristics in the world. This year, in 32 venues, 128 teams participate, ranging from the most powerful squads in the country, to ghost clubs from all corners of Brazil, often sponsored by businessmen who want to show their ‘products’. The ‘Copinha’ is a great bazaar, in which local and international scouts try to discern diamonds and precious stones among the almost 3,000 players born until 2001 who play this edition.

The presence of television, which broadcasts a large number of games now that professional football is on vacation, and the unison interest of all the crooked ones in seeing their youth win their eternal rival inject pressure to the limit.. And all of them playing as if there were no tomorrow, calling on footballers who are already in the first team. The most important thing is not training but lifting the title on the 25th, which is when the final is played, coinciding with the anniversary of the founding of Sao Paulo.


To cultivate talent and make the candidates to crack grow there are the Brazilian Under-20 and Under-17 Championship and the Copa do Brasil in both categories, competitions organized by the CBF for less than a decade. That’s where headhunters really have to get their work done.

The mistake is to continue to believe that the ‘Copinha’ was in the gold rush, as it did long ago, when it was impossible to see the best youth players in the country, since there were no national tournaments. Nor can definitive conclusions be drawn in three weeks of outright competition. The names that are detected must be worked on in the coming months and not fall into precipitation, pushed by the pressure of agents who want to do business ‘just in time’.


Barça has made big mistakes in the last two editionss (the one in 2021 was not disputed due to the pandemic), because of the abuse of their scouters, who endorsed, in a hurry and running, signings that ended up being unsuccessful: like Gustavo Maia’s, because in 2020 he had a stroke and scored three so many in seven games, or that of Gabriel Novaes, champion with Sao Paulo and striker with 10 goals in 2019, who days later came on loan to Barça B. Neither of the two entered into the plans of the Tricolor del Morumbi, who did not think of uploading them, in the short term, to the first team.

You have to know how to interpret the meanders of the ‘Copinha’, where there are players of unquestionable talent. Many of the players who are now in the Seleçao (Neymar Jr., Gabriel Jesus, Vinicius Jr., Casemiro, Alisson, Marquinhos& mldr;) have disputed it, but none of them were immediately negotiated. To the parrot, then.

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