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We are Port Adelaide

Paulo’s Power in Brazil

WE’VE heard of some supporters going to extraordinary lengths to follow Port Adelaide, but how about getting up at 4:30am regularly to catch a game?

That is exactly the prospect faced on several occasions this season for one supporter living, of all places, in Brazil.

Paulo Roberto Sanchotene has never been to Australia and his only link to the country is that his brother Pedro visited Sydney for a month in 2010.

But that – combined with a chance viewing of an international sports television program - was enough to spark his interest in AFL football and make him Brazil’s biggest Power fan.

“As a kid there was a show Gillette Wide World of Sports or something and there was a part where they showed highlights of different sports,” Paulo said.

“While many of the sports I knew, there was this weird sport on a huge field with lots of players jumping on each other and there were four goal posts at each end and the goal umpires would wear hats.

“I just thought it looked amazing – but then I didn’t think much about it until my brother came to Australia like 15 years later.

“All I asked of him was an AFL football and the AFL PlayStation game – and he got me them.”

The 37-year-old is married to Alice and has with two sons, Henrique, 8 and Felipe, 5, and is a mad soccer follower like many of his countrymen.

A supporter of Brazilian club Gremio which has won one club World Cup, seven national titles and 36 state championships as well as three Copa Libertadores, the South American club competition.

The current South American club champions wear colours very similar to those of Port Adelaide’s AFL side, and the club’s initials PA are the same as his home city Porto Allegre.

That was enough to make Paulo a Power supporter too.

“Because the colours were similar I would always play as Port Adelaide on the PlayStation game,” Paulo said.

“And then I moved with my wife to America for four years and came back two years ago.

“When we moved back to the family farm I found my old Sherrin footy and it made me think “I wonder how Port Adelaide is doing?” so I looked into it.”

He now follows the club religiously, watching most games through an AFL Live pass and even writing his own blog about the Power’s season called Far-West Footy – The struggles of following the Port Adelaide Football Club from the other side of the globe.

“I searched the club, I read forums on BigFooty, and I just fell in love with the club because everyone there is so passionate and so welcoming,” he said.

“People on the forums have been really willing to tell me the history and all the stories of the success.

 “Suddenly I was so deep into it, I was trapped and now I can’t get away!”

A qualified lawyer, he instead works keeping the books on his family cattle farm in Uruguaiana in the country’s south-west, near the border with Argentina.

There he has set up four wooden posts to practise kicking on goal with his children.

Earlier this season he got his first Port Adelaide guernsey and a Charlie Dixon badge, although he says picking a favourite player is a hard ask.

“If I had to pick one, I would go with Sam Powell-Pepper,” he said.

“The boy is a beast. He is an unpolished gem, but a gem nonetheless. 

“I'm probably on the minority who loves congestion and contested footy, and that's precisely SPP's natural habitat - he joins the melees as if he owns them—and he probably does own them.

“He plays with tonnes of heart, and I love that.

“He goes in fearless and tackles whomever has the ball, or he simply picks up the footy and disposes of it, as if playing on a public park with friends.

“He doesn't feel pressure, he’s just awesome.”

Paulo admits his family and friends think he is a bit strange because of his Port Adelaide and AFL obsession, and says not having anyone to discuss the game with in person means he has taken to online forums under the name GremioPower.

His blog - where he has written about everything from who should take on the Power in China each year to comments on the SANFL, the Adelaide Crows and how the Power should play like the German national soccer team – is another outlet.

And, while for now he is happy to focus on supporting from afar Paulo is determined one day to get to Australia to see the Power play live.

“I’d love to come to Australia and to visit Port Adelaide,” he said.

“To meet some of the people personally who I have already spoken with virtually.

“To visit Alberton would be incredible, and hopefully watch a game live at Adelaide Oval.”