Published on 04/23/2022 06:00
(credit: photos: personal archive)
The path of volleyball player Abu Bakr Drama, 28, does not differ from many athletes of the Federal District: starting with childhood, devotion and, finally, professionalism. However, the continent separates him from his roots. The family is from Mali, northwest Africa, the parents arrived in Brasilia in the eighties, the father of the athlete Musa worked as a cook at the Ivory Coast embassy, and he was transferred to Brazil with his wife Kumba.
In the federal capital, namely in São Sebastiao, they began to live and have children. It didn’t take long for the neighborhood to integrate the family into the community. More than close friends, many of them ended up playing the role of family, Brazilians, and Brazilian relatives of immigrants.
Bronze medalist at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, during college Aboubacar came to the defense of Minas Tenes Club, who played in the 2016 FIFA Club World Championship in Betim, as well as participating in the South American University Games in Buenos Aires. A path closely followed and celebrated by blood and emotional family, as outlined by 30-year-old lab technician Luis Fernando Claudino Couto.
The friendship was born when they were three years old. They remember growing up playing in the streets of São Sebastiao. “He played volleyball for a while and then went to soccer, and I tried to keep up with it,” Abu Bakr recalls. “It was really cool at the time of this sport because it was a game for us. We came back playing, rang the bell in other people’s homes and ran out, like for the kids,” Lewis says. Abu Bakr started playing volleyball at the age of eight, influenced by sisters Mariam, Fatumata and Aminata. Fernando also has an older brother.
In the neighborhood, 23 kilometers from Plano Belotto, children of both families always played together. Weekends and grilled gatherings make up the memories of today’s adults.
Brothers who chose each other
The affinity was so great that Abu Bakr and Fernando chose the same college, but in different fields. While Dramé was playing and had a degree in technology, Fernando went into the health field, but nothing was holding them back. Nandu, as his friend calls him, says, “We’ve always supported each other, I was in every game and he supported me in my choices too. It’s really a brotherly relationship.”
Although the age of majority has led to friends stopping sharing the neighborhood, the family is still united. “Every time I go back to Brasilia and go to his house, we remember our childhood. He is practically a man’s brother”, guarantees the player, who currently lives in France. “Our parents still live in the same house and almost every weekend we have lunch with the family. As if nothing had changed,” said the lab technician.
In 2020, Luis Fernando got married and the best man was none other than Abubakar. The engagement party had to be postponed due to the covid-19 pandemic, and when it was scheduled, the player was out of Brazil. But this was not a hindrance, even on the Internet there was Abu Bakr partying with his friend. “I miss him here, but even far he does not fail to participate in anything,” Nando admits.
The distance did not cut relations, but rather strengthened the feeling of love and brotherhood between friends. Shortly after arriving in France, Dramay sustained a serious injury, ruptured his Achilles tendon and had to be out of play. “Even in the toughest moments, we were always there for each other. He stayed put, I always said everything was going to be okay, and it just happened.”
In love with Brasilia, Drama left the capital only when he became a professional athlete. “My roots are from Brasilia. When I retire, I will live here,” he guarantees. The player says he does not see himself living anywhere other than the Federal District. He adds, “It’s my home, and I’m not happy when I’m outside Brazil. That’s our goal, when I retire, and I live in Brasilia, I do other things when my family does.”