Olympics 2016

You're missing the best of Rio 2016 if you aren't following the beach volleyball at the Copacabana

The sport is back to its spiritual home.

Is it the ultimate beach volleyball venue? Hawaii invented the sport but the Copacabana in Rio de Janeiro is the spiritual home of beach volleyball, the sexy sibling of the indoor equivalent. The volleyball venue majestically rises from the pristine sands, not far from the stately Hotel Copacabana Palace, where American singer Barry Manilow mused, in his 1978 hit song of the same name, “At the copa, Copacabana, The hottest spot north of Havana…”

In Rio, the Copacabana is indeed a hotspot. The famed stretch of beach is very different from the bubble at the other clusters of Olympic activity, the Olympic Park in Barra da Tijuca, the Deodoro zone and the Maracana zone, semi-demilitarised vestiges of sporting prowess, with colourful draping, an army of volunteers and plenty of shuttle buses.

Happy Friday! A view from Copacabana. ❤ 49 days to go! #RoadtoRio

A photo posted by The Olympic Games (@olympics) on

A symbol of carioca

The Copacabana is Brazil’s touristy postcard and a symbol for Rio, the mad Carioca capital. Cariocas, as Rio’s residents are called, play and live on the beach, munching on snacks, sipping on all-too strong Caipirinhas with maracaju – passion fruit – scanning racks of cheap jewellery and other paraphernalia, and engaging in futvolei, an acrobatic contraption between football and volleyball.

In Leme, in the shadow of the Sugar Loaf Mountain, in an outer corner of Copacabana beach, dozens and dozens of volleyball nets are set up, with locals playing. In many ways, the beach is Brazil’s democratic forum, where everyone can participate in social life. That does come with a caveat.

Copacabana, and the Ipanema beach, mirror Brazilian class differences. The rich and upper class frequent the sands of Leblon, the left stretch of the Ipanema beach. The middle class flock to Ipanema beach, the poor and the locals to Arpoador (the right stretch of Ipanema beach). The Copacabana beach houses the tourist class, with Leme hosting, again, the locals and the poor.

There, in front of Taberna Atlantica, Joao Carlos Reis, 49 and a federal civil servant, played futvolei with Jairzinho, a member of the Brazilian football team which won the football World Cup in 1970. They displayed delightful skills: flicks, flying headers, chest-controls and flighted passes. Reis is also a fervent volleyball aficionado, a borderline rato de praia [beach rat], a knowledgeable and excellent amateur player.

#copacabanabeachvolleyball #rio2016🇧🇷 #brasilia🇧🇷 #swiss🇨🇭 #monsterblocks #aceace #bestfans

A photo posted by Demetra Marcus Bell (@demetramarcusbell) on

Part of the Rio culture

“Beach volleyball has always been a part of Rio de Janeiro’s culture,” explained Reis. “In the ‘90’s, the sport gained importance with the founding of national and international beach volleyball circuits.”

Last Wednesday, Reis attended a pool match at the 12,000-all-seater temporary stadium. The Brazilian women’s double team Rippel Agatha and Barbara de Freitas, among the favorites, succumbed to 2-0 defeat against Spain. “It felt as if I was on the court,” beamed Reis.

In the men’s draw, the Brazilian duo of Alison Cerutti and Bruno Schmidt progressed to the semi-final stage, defeating the United States on Tuesday. They are one of the top contenders to win gold – on Friday, they dispatched the European champions, Spain’s Pablo Herrera and Adrian Gavira 24-22 21-13. They enjoyed the vociferous backing of the home fans, all spurred on by tracks from Michel Telo, Gustavo Lima and Taylor Swift. Boos drowned out a five-second attempt at E Viva Espana, with Brazilian fans incessantly straddling the line between the supportive and the outright nasty.

The home duo’s skill set was superior. Midway through the second set, Cerutti made multiple blocks to ensure a comfortable win for the Brazilians. The fans went berserk. Here was a crowd that simply loved every spike and dig, that loved every ace and block. High up in the grandstand, dressed in a tri-colored bikini and a mini-skirt, Renata Mello, 26 and a marketer from Sao Paulo, was enjoying the game.

#beachvolleyball #rio2016 #omega #rioolympics #riodejaneiro

A photo posted by ryosuke nihonyanagi (@yanaginihon) on

A country that loves the beach

“Brazil is O Pais Tropical [The tropical country, a reference to the famous Brazilian song from musician Jorge Ben Jor],” said Mello. “It is a country that loves the beach. Beach volleyball is one of the faces of Brazil. The game was already important [in its indoor form]. The energy is superb and everyone is giving their maximum. It’s a wonderful experience [to be here].”

Mello left after the Brazilian game, but as Canadian duo Sarah Pavan and Heather Bansley won the next game with the white foam of the Atlantic repeatedly breaking through the Olympic rings, towering over the seaside stand, the venue’s beauty and natural richness were unequivocal.

Just six more days! 😍 #RoadToRio

A photo posted by The Olympic Games (@olympics) on

Beach volleyball has a history of stunning settings - London’s Horse Guards Parade with the Big Ben, Parliament and the Eye as a backdrop, and Sydney’s Bondi Beach, but the Copacabana topples the other venues both scenically and symbolically. It is simply the perfect venue for the game. Beach volleyball at the Copacabana beach is like football at the old Wembley, cricket at Lord’s and lawn tennis at Wimbledon.

So is it the ultimate venue for the sport?

“This is where it all began!” said Reis emphatically.

“Definitely, it is the birthplace of the sport,” said Pavan, who lived two years in Rio de Janeiro. “The fans are knowledgeable and the environment is simply great. It’s rewarding to play here.”

What a great picture of the Olympic Rings on Copacabana Beach! Photo by @gettyimages

A photo posted by The Olympic Games (@olympics) on

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content  BY 

Want to retire at 45? Make your money work for you

Common sense and some discipline are all you need.

Dreaming of writing that book or taking that cruise when you hit your 40s? Well this dream need not be unrealistic.

All it takes is simple math and the foresight to do some smart financial planning when you are still young. If you start early and get into the discipline of cutting down on unnecessary expenditure, using that money to invest systematically, you can build wealth that sets you free to tick those items off your bucket list sooner than later.

A quick look at how much you spend on indulgences will give you an idea of how much you can save and invest. For example, if you spend, say Rs. 1,000 on movie watching per week, this amount compounded over 10 years means you would have spent around Rs 7,52,000 on just movies! You can try this calculation for yourself. Think of any weekly or monthly expense you regularly make. Now use this calculator to understand how much these expenses will pile up overtime with the current rate of inflation.

Now imagine how this money could have grown at the end of 10 years and overcome the inflation effect if you had instead taken a part invested it somewhere!

It is no rocket science

The fact is that financial planning is simpler than we imagine it to be. Some simple common sense and a clear prioritization of life’s goals is all you need:

  1. Set goals and work backwards: Everything starts with what you want. So, what are your goals? Are they short-term (like buying a car), medium-term (buying a house) or long-term (comfortable living post-retirement). Most of us have goals that come under all the three categories. So, our financial plans should reflect that. Buying a house, for example, would mean saving up enough money for up-front payment and ensuring you have a regular source of income for EMI payment for a period of at least 15-20 years. Buying a car on the other hand might just involve having a steady stream of income to pay off the car loan.
  2. Save first, spend later: Many of us make the mistake of putting what is left, after all our expenses have been met, in the savings kitty. But the reverse will have more benefits in the long run. This means, putting aside a little savings, right at the beginning of the month in the investment option that works best for you. You can then use the balance to spend on your expenditures. This discipline ensures that come what may, you remain on track with your saving goals.
  3. Don’t flaunt money, but use it to create more: When you are young and get your first jobit is tempting to spend on a great lifestyle. But as we’ve discussed, even the small indulgences add up to a serious amount of cash over time. Instead, by regulating indulgences now and investing the rest of your money, you can actually become wealthy instead of just seeming to be so.
  4. Set aside emergency funds: When an emergency arises, like sudden hospitalisation or an accident, quick access to money is needed. This means keeping aside some of your money in liquid assets (accessible whenever you want it). It thus makes sense to regularly save a little towards creating this emergency fund in an investment that can be easily liquidated.
  5. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket: This is something any investment adviser will tell you, simply because different investment options come with different benefits and risks and suit different investment horizons. By investing in a variety of instruments or options, you can hedge against possible risks and also meet different goals.

How and Why Mutual Funds work

A mutual fund is a professionally managed investment scheme that pools money collected from investors like you and invests this into a diversified portfolio (an optimal mix) of stocks, bonds and other securities.

As an investor, you buy ‘units’, under a mutual fund scheme. The value of these units (Net Asset Value) fluctuates depending on the market value of the mutual fund’s investments. So, the units can be bought or redeemed as per your needs and based on the value.

As mentioned, the fund is managed by professionals who follow the market closely the make calls on where to invest money. This makes these funds a great option for someone who isn’t financially very savvy but is interested in saving up for the future.

So how is a mutual fund going to help to meet your savings goals? Here’s a quick Q&A helps you understand just that:

  1. How do mutual funds meet my investment needs?Mutual Funds come with a variety of schemes that suit different goals depending on whether they are short-term, medium-term or long-term.
  2. Can I withdraw money whenever I want to?There are several mutual funds that offer liquidity – quick and easy access to your money when you want it. For example, there are liquid mutual funds which do not have any lock in period and you can invest your surplus money even for one day. Based on your goals, you can divide your money between funds with longer term or shorter term benefits.
  3. Does it help save on taxes?Investing in certain types of mutual funds also offers you tax benefits. More specifically, investing in Equity Linked Saving Schemes, which are funds that invest in a diverse portfolio of equities, offers you tax deductions up to Rs. 1.5 lakhs under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act.
  4. Don’t I need a lot of money to invest in MFs?No, you can start small. The returns in terms of percentage is the same irrespective of the amount you invest in. Additionally, the Systematic Investment Plan (SIP) allows you to invest a small amount weekly, monthly or quarterly in a mutual fund. So, you get to control the size and frequency of your investment and make sure you save before you spend.
  5. But aren’t MFs risky?Well many things in life are risky! Mutual funds try to mitigate your risk by investing your money across a variety of securities. You can further hedge risk by investing in 2 to 3 mutual offers that offer different growth stories i.e. a blue-chip fund and a mid-cap fund. Also remember in a mutual fund, your money is being managed by professionals who are constantly following the market.
  6. Don’t I have to wait too long to get back my returns?No! Mutual Funds, because of the variety of options they offer, can give you gains in the short or medium term too.

The essence of MF is that your money is not lying idle, but is dynamically invested and working for you. To know more about how investing in mutual funds really works for you, see here.

Disclaimer: Mutual Fund investments are subject to market risks, read all scheme related documents carefully.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Mutual Funds Sahi Hai and not by the Scroll editorial team.