The following post was submitted by Sergio Rodrigues from Toronto CA, it is with great honour that we share his story of bonding, saudade, and the love for Benfica that he inherited from his father.
10 years ago today – May 24, 2009 – my father Antonio passed away unexpectedly from a heart attack. The Portuguese have a habit of honouring departed souls with a missa in their name. Benfica Independente has given me this opportunity to honour him and give our story, and the story of thousands of immigrants, a voice.
Having immigrated from Portugal, my father followed the path of his brother and settled in
Toronto, Canada. A small but growing Portuguese population greeted him and although some of the customs from back home could easily be found on Dundas Street West, this was pre-internet, pre-satellite, pre-IPTV. Following his beloved Benfica meant paying $10 a head at the Casa do Benfica to watch the closed-circuit satellite feed. But my father, like many immigrants, worked 12 hour days and watching live was an occasional Sunday luxury. The only option was to listen to the relato on the radio from RDP Internacional on Asas do Atlantico or CIRV 88.9 FM. I was 9 years old when I listened to my first relato, the infamous Mão de Vata Semi-Final vs. Marseille. Weeks later, I would watch my first Benfica match on TV, the 1990 European Cup final against AC Milan.
Bonding with a Portuguese father can be weird and awkward at times, but my dad and I instantly connected when it came to all matters Benfica. Rui Aguas, Ricardo Gomes, Valdo, Mozer – all names that I started to idolize alongside the names of famous hockey and baseball players.
But given this was still pre-internet, getting any Benfica content was hard to come by across the Atlantic. We were limited to days old A Bola newspapers and a weekly program on the multicultural TV channel CFMT, Bola Ao Centro. There was no twitter, no youtube highlights of your favourite player. Soccer rarely featured on TSN, the only Canadian sports network at the time. We were more likely to watch a week old broadcast of Norwich – Queens Park Rangers than anything else. When the only soccer program on Canadian television - Soccer Saturday - expanded its content and started to feature matches of the week from around the continent, I was ecstatic. Benfica-Sporting, Benfica-Porto, Porto-Sporting were always regular features, albeit one week delayed.
As the content started to role in, my love affair with Benfica would start to grow. My dad was