Boston City FC takes training to another place: Revere Beach

'It’s freezing, it’s windy ... but the beach is like Brazil'

The soccer squad and coach Jorge Silva regularly take to the Revere shoreline for drills
Boston City FC will debut in the National Premier Soccer League this year, the equivalent of the country’s fourth division. –Chris Aduama

REVERE – When outsiders think of Revere Beach, they might conjure images of Kelly’s Roast Beef and hot summer days on the sand. For Jorge Ferreira da Silva, it brought back memories of soccer in Brazil.

Since taking over as coach of Boston City FC this year, da Silva has been bringing the team to Revere Beach, running the players through drills. Sure, the North Atlantic is cooler by degrees than Brazil this time of year, but the setting serves da Silva’s purposes.

“It’s freezing, it’s windy, and the water is ice cold,” said da Silva, known as Palhinha when he played for Brazil’s top clubs and the national team. “But the beach is like Brazil.”

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“In Brazil, we are used to doing this. Everybody goes to the beach, and it’s kind of hard because it’s always crowded. Here, it’s perfect. There’s nobody here.”

On a recent sunny Saturday morning, players from Boston City FC (which will debut in the National Premier Soccer League this year) worked on agility and speed on a mostly empty expanse of beach. Palhinha said he believes players should enjoy the game – always “have a smile on their face” – but this 90-minute workout was more about serious conditioning than fun and games.

“It helps a lot, the difference between sand and grass,” assistant coach Thomas Paschoarelli said. “When you go to the grass after this, they fly. It’s very hard practice but it’s good.

“In Brazil, we are used to doing this. Everybody goes to the beach, and it’s kind of hard because it’s always crowded. Here, it’s perfect. There’s nobody here.”

Boston City FC began holding workouts on Revere Beach in February, but had to suspend the practice when the team was informed a use permit was required because of the nesting period of the piping plover, an endangered species.

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“We were down there innocently enough on a couple occasions because Palhinha wanted to bring some of the culture of how he trained in Brazil,” Boston City FC managing director Craig Tornberg said. “And we were informed we would need to get permitted. It took us a little while to figure out where to go and who to speak to. But, finally, with assistance for the Mayor’s Office in Revere and the State Department of Conservation and Recreation, some people kind of took it to a passion and they got it done for us. We don’t want to do any damage to the environment and at the same time they want to be accommodating to a local professional team like ours.”

Palhinha said he never needed a permit for such workouts in Brazil. And this was likely the first time local government had to accommodate a professional soccer team wanting to use the sand for practice sessions.

“I think it is unique and it speaks highly to the kind of coach we have and his background,” said Tornberg, a former Revolution general manager. “He knows what worked for him, first as a young player growing up in Belo Horizonte, and as a professional player in Sao Paulo and Cruziero, and many other teams throughout Brazil. It’s normal. I’ve been around coaches that bring their own styles and their own backgrounds to their training programs and Palhinha is no different.

“It’s kind of exciting. We have a beach culture here, even though it’s a cold climate. Revere Beach is the oldest public beach in the country and we’re able to go and bring a little bit of Brazil to it. There has been so much Brazilian immigration over the last 15-20 years and it’s interesting we would bring part of that culture and training to the U.S. and, specifically, to Revere Beach.”

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Palhinha’s paraphernalia includes agility ladders, hula hoops, pushup ladders, resistance belts, plus soccer balls. On this day, players were bundled up, wearing down jackets, gloves and hats. Michael Bustamante, who grew up in Chelsea and played at Boston University and for the New York Red Bulls in MLS, donned a neck warmer, as well.

“Working on the beach is obviously unique,” Bustamante said. “I think it’s more of a South American thing. For me, coming from Colombia, I was used to that. Before I was here I spent some time in Brazil, and did it there. But it’s definitely unique here in the States. I don’t think a lot of teams get to do that. Maybe on the West Coast teams do it, but they don’t on the East Coast.

“It helps a lot, the difference between sand and grass. When you go to the grass after this, they fly. It’s very hard practice but it’s good.

“But it’s an opportunity for us to get quicker, stronger, and it will show on the field. Yeah, it definitely helps, like I say, get you stronger and a little quicker. It helps you with your reactions, and also injury prevention for a lot of players.”

Boston City FC is a new entry in the NPSL, a league divided into 12 conferences, the equivalent of the country’s fourth division. Boston City FC will compete in the nine-team Atlantic Conference, its inaugural game against the defending national champion New York Cosmos B at Malden Catholic High School at 6 p.m. Sunday, May 1. Other local NPSL teams include Greater Lowell United FC, Rhode Island Reds, Seacoast United Mariners and Seacoast United Phantoms.

“We hope bringing some of these developmental programs is going to lead to further development of the type of players that are important to this country,” Tornberg said. “This goes to some of the technical side. While it’s speed and agility on the beach, and using strength and so forth to get through and around the sand, if you notice what they work on is a lot of technical procedures that end up with all these exercises. So, hopefully we’ll be able to continue in that development, which is finding better and more technical players than what we’ve been developing in the past.”

Photos: Boston FC trains on Revere Beach

 

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