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Meet Gustavo Scarpa – the skateboarder who won the biggest title in South American club football

About watching contests in the locker room before games and celebrating the Copa Libertadores trophy with his board on the pitch.

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Gustavo Scarpa celebrating the title with his skateboard on the pitch.

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The Palmeiras team celebrating the title on the team bus.

At first: Congrats on winning the Copa Libertadores! How it’s going since then?

Thanks a lot! I’m very happy and it has been a little bit crazy for me. You know, it’s my second in a row. But now, I’m just chilling, skating and wakeboarding with my friends.

So it’s off-season now?

Actually, it’s not off-season, yet. But actually, we didn’t have trainings anymore. We’re champions, you know? [laughs]

"All the team mates were like “What the hell is he doing? We are champions and he runs into the locker room?!”"

You did a crazy party after you won the trophy?

Not that much. I go more crazy for the typical Brazlian strawberry cookie with milk and ate it a lot. That’s my style of celebration.

My Portuguese friend sent me the pictures of you holding the trophy in the one and your skateboard with the other hand. What’s the story behind bringing your board on the pitch for the celebration?

I thought it would just be funny to skate on the pitch if we win the game. After we won, I immediately ran into the locker room and brought it. All the team mates were like “What the hell is he doing? We are champions and he runs into the locker room?!”.

Do any of your team mates know about your skate passion?

Yeah. They are tired of me showing them videos and just say “Man, I don’t like skateboarding”. But they know how much I love it.

So Felipe Melo is not into skating?

Totally no. [laughs]

Let’s get deeper into your skating. How did you get into it?

You know. I never really skated. During the pandemic a friend gave me his board and I tried to ollie. I bailed really bad immediately, but from there on I was hyped and just wanted to learn it. I figured it out and kept skating until today and I love it.

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I saw your clips on Instagram! You seem to be quite passionate. That kickflip over the kicker-to-kicker gap got you crazy hyped! People see you are constantly learning new stuff and taking skating seriously. How do you manage to do skate and practice that intense and be a professional football player at the same time? Many of the people i know who were into both stopped one thing at a point.

Football practice is only the half of the day. So the other half is for skating and wakeboarding.

You’re muscles have to be tired!

[laughs] Yeah. Sometimes I start skating and the first 15 minutes are hard. But after that I can just go. I look at the clock during the session and sometimes three or four hours are gone like nothing. Usually I skate for three or four hours in the morning and then drive to Sao Paolo for the football practice.

You don’t need time to relax after or before that intense football training?

Probably at night, sometimes [laughs]. If I did not skate for days, I feel like the football thing hits more from the mind side. I think I need my balance. Skating also helps me to be better in football. My ankles got more stable and I gained a lot more core strength. For me as a light offensive player it’s easier now to stand tacklings from the bigger and stronger defensive players. My friends told me that first: “Man! You are not falling that much anymore!”

"Skating also helps me to be better in football. My ankles got more stable and I gained a lot more core strength. For me as a light offensive player it’s easier now to stand tacklings from the bigger and stronger defensive players."

Isn’t your coach worried about you missing games because of an injury you get from skating?

No! My coach even said that I should skate in a Palmeiras jersey so the club can use the videos. Football here is like “If you win, you can do everything”, but honestly, I feel a bit of fear myself while skating and trying new tricks. It’s still a risk. I tried that kickflip for one and a half hours while saying to myself “Stay calm, stay calm! You won’t get hurt. You are able to do it”.

Where do you skate? In Sao Paolo? What’s your homespot?

Sometimes I skate in Sao Paolo, but usually I skate in my hometown. It’s way smaller and we have a skatepark here. It’s not amazing, but still nice to learn stuff. At the moment I’m in talks with the city hall to build a big skate plaza here.

So you are using your popularity to help out the scene?

Yes! The people told me: “Gustavo! You have to use your popularity to do something for the city!”. All my life I thought I would do something like that for football, it’s crazy that I’m now able to realize that skatepark! It’s definitely a huge moment for me in my life.

"My coach even told me to skate in a Palmeiras jersey so the club can use the videos."

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Totally appreciate it! I saw some well-known skateboarders like Rodrigo TX and Luan Oliveira posting clips of you! How did that connection happen?

When I started skating I watched so many clips of that amazing guys like Rodrigo, Luan and Carlos Ribeiro and just was like “I have to skate with them one day!”. So I just wanted to try and sent them a message on Instagram. They answered in a super nice way and said “Yeah Scarpa! Come to Sao Paolo and we skate!”. I’m just waiting for the right moment to skate with those legends.

Are those guys your idols you look up to in skating? What video parts you watch before skating?

The first one to be my idol was probably Luan. I watched so many videos of him. Especially as I learned how to kickflip I watched so many clips of him doing that trick. As I got more into skating I followed more skating from the US and Brazil. Tiago Lemos and Rodrigo TX are great, but I appreciate a lot more skaters. And I enjoy watching Street League. I watched the Super Crown one in the locker room before a game.

You are watching Street League on your phone before one of the biggest games in South American football?

No. It was one game before that. But if it had been the Copa, I would’ve watched it anyway [laughs]. But when it comes to a part, definitely the one where Tiago does that switch backtail at MACBA – this is just insane! I even use his pro model for skating.

"I watched the Super Crown one in the locker room before a game."

I saw you already have a pro model, too. What’s the story behind you having a pro model after just two years of skating?

[laughs]. That’s crazy, isn’t it? No, I don’t know. A company saw me skating and just sent my a board with that crazy graphic with my face and my name on it. I’m not even able to treflip and someone wants to make me pro. What?!

You won the Copa in 2020 and in 2021. You already (kind of) went pro as a skater. When you will win your first Street League?

[laughs] No way! My biggest dream in skating right now is just to have bs smith grinds. For me, it’s the most beautiful trick. Or hardflips!

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Gustavo with his (kind of) pro model.

To wrap this up and to connect the two sports again. If you would’ve children in the future and you have to choose to recommend them to skate or play football?

For sure skating. Football is fun, but very hard. In skating there is so much different stuff to learn every day and one day I would love to see my children doing what so many kids here having fun with at the moment.

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