GOSHEN — The planning began almost as soon as the final announcement was made in 2007.
The World Cup was coming to Brazil in 2014, and to Andrew Carpenter, that meant the biggest sporting event in the world was coming to his home country.
Now a resident of Goshen, Carpenter was born and raised in Brazil as one of five children of missionaries Chuck and Mary Carpenter.
"My parents went to Brazil in 1960 and (twin brother) Aaron and I were born in 1961,'' Carpenter said. "We went to school there through high school graduation, then we came to the United States and went to college (and played soccer) at Bethel.''
But Carpenter never lost his love for Brazil. Every four years when the World Cup came around, he and wife Cindy would proudly display the Brazilian flag outside their home and invite loved ones over to live and die with each match.
"We definitely tried to make it an event when Brazil was playing,“ Carpenter said. "But to have the opportunity to go to Brazil and be a part of the culture of the World Cup and to see firsthand the excitement was just too good an opportunity to pass up.''
So the Carpenter family began to seriously plan their trip around the time the 2010 World Cup ended.
With an older brother, Mark, living in São Paulo, there would be no need to find a place to stay, alleviating a major concern. Airline tickets were researched, and a flight from Detroit to Toronto to São Paulo was booked for Andrew, Cindy and two of their sons, Eric and Lucas.
But finding tickets was more of a challenge.
Individual game tickets were dispersed by a lottery, with soccer fans from all over the world getting online and trying to find a way to get into a specific game. For Carpenter, that often meant a member of the family getting up at 4 a.m. and logging on.
"It really was pretty crazy, and the first three times we tried without success,’’ Carpenter recalled. “Then we finally were able to get a game, but you only have 15 minutes to get all your information in, which includes your credit card, and before we got everything in, we lost that chance. Fortunately the next time, we were ready.’’
Andrew and his family got tickets for four games: Uruguay-England, Iraq-Argentina, Equador-France and a second round knockout game, which could feature any two teams that advance out of the first round.
"We didn’t even try to get tickets to see Brazil, because we knew the price would be crazy,’’ Carpenter said. ”We would have liked to see the U.S. team play too, but most of their games are in northern Brazil, which is almost like going from New York to Los Angeles from where we’ll be. Plus, there were a lot of Americans in the lottery trying for those game, so we decided to stay closer to where we would be.’’
Carpenter compares the culture of soccer in Brazil to that of basketball in Indiana.
"Indiana is a basketball state, where you have kids shooting baskets everywhere,’’ Carpenter explained. “But in Brazil, there are kids kicking the ball around or working on their footwork in every park or empty lot you go by. It’s just a different world there.’’
Carpenter has followed all the news surrounding the World Cup, from the questions of corruption, to the subway strike to questions concerning whether or not the venues will be finished and ready for the games to begin.
But one thing Carpenter doesn’t think American people know is just how much pressure the Brazilian team will face each time they take the pitch.
"Soccer is a way of life in Brazil, and the pressure on the shoulders of those players is just incredible,’’ Carpenter said. ”I really don’t think there is a sporting event in the U.S. that compares to it or even comes close, not even the Super Bowl. Remember, the hopes of an entire soccer-mad country are on those guys, and they have to try and get the job done.’’
While the soccer and the atmosphere of Brazil will be a very new experience, Carpenter knows the entire trip will be memorable.
“This trip is also about traveling with family and seeing family and friends back in Brazil,’’ Carpenter said. ”It’s something we will always remember, no matter who wins.’’