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In Brazil, mania for a childhood pastime

Why are Brazilians of all ages obsessively collecting trading cards? Hint: World Cup.

Of course, young boys seem to make up at least a plurality of collectors. Guilherme Azevedo, 11, receives an allowance of 11 reais a week, which gets him 14 packs with 50 cents to spare. What’s the appeal? “For the memories,” he said. “It’s so that when I’m older, I can say to my children, ‘Son, here was one of my first World Cups.’”

A family flips through their album. (Seth Kugel/GlobalPost)

Guilherme’s maturity-beyond-his-years streak was just beginning. Upon finding out the reporter interviewing him was American, he sorted through his doubles and gave him a USA team shot and a sticker of U.S. star Landon Donovan.

Nearby, Flavio Sergio Gomes da Costa was sitting with his 9-year-old son Pedro Henrique. “I think it’s a great way to follow the Cup,” he said. “During my childhood, around the 1982 Cup, the stickers came in chewing gum. I collected them, but didn’t keep the albums. These days I really miss those albums.”

Flavio Sergio Gomes de Castro helps his son Pedro Henrique with his album. (Seth Kugel/GlobalPost)

Meanwhile, Gabrielly was continuing her search for number 507, moving patiently from group to group, targeting new arrivals. How was she feeling? “Anxious,” she said. “Moco,” she would ask, using a polite term of address for young men, “do you have 507?”

Everyone knew what it meant — that she was missing one last card — and tried to help.

Finally, she came to a young man named Kadu Vasconcelos, who was sporting a ponytail and the green jersey of Palmeiras, a Sao Paulo club, and sitting on the steps just outside the magazine stand. “Moco, do you have 507?”

He flipped through his pile, plucked it out and handed it to Gabrielly, who broke into a wide grin. She thanked him, and went to find her mom. The next step was to stick the last 21 stickers in the album, but what she would do with it afterward was unclear.

And bingo! Kadu Vasconcelos makes Gabrielly happy by giving her 507.

“I don’t know,” she shrugged. “Display it in my room?” Whatever she decides, it’s unlikely her happy encounter with Ri Myung Guk would make her a fan of the North Korean team: their first Cup game, on June 15, is against Brazil.