Football Fan rides Vespa with Sidecar from England to Brazil World Cup staging Penalty Shootouts en Route

On June 12, 2014 by MarcF

Londoner Chris Hallett, gave up his IT career and used his life savings to fund his ‘Scooters for Goalposts’ motorbiking-meets-penalty-shootouts trip from England to the World Cup 2014 in Brazil. He rode a Vespa scooter with sidecar over 15,000-miles visiting 18 of the 32 countries participating in the world cup while visiting as many iconic football stadiums as possible where he challenged football fans in penalty shootouts.

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The idea began 4 years ago as the South African World Cup was about to start. Crashing together motorbiking, football, penalties and travel into one adventure in aid of UNICEF seemed perfect on many levels to Hallett. However the usual life and work commitments prevented it from materializing then. After years of working with IT in London along came the World Cup in Brazil.  Arguably the best country team in the World, in arguably the most football crazy country. The time was right, and Hallett seized the oppportunity by quitting his job and hitting the road.
He rode through a host of European countries then on through the US, Mexico, Honduras, Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador, Chile, Argentina and Uruguay before he headed to Rio de Janeiro.

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Chris eagerly explains: “A lot of people are going to the World Cup in Brazil And would probably like to take off for a 5 month trip, but let’s face it we can’t all go can we? Selflessly I’ve volunteered to go on all our behalf.  I’ve sunk my savings and hopped on my scooter to start the ride from London to Brazil.  Just remember I am doing this for you!”

There are however some others that did indeed take 5 months off to reach the Brazil World Cup in an original way:

Hallett’s goal was to ride through as many countries as possible that had qualified for the World Cup. And help England with their penalty shootout trauma.
“England have the worst penalty shooting record of any team in the world cup. Is it the nerves? Is it the goal size? Is it the keepers? Is it the weather? Somehow we’ve even missed the goal completely! We need the practice so I decided to help improve the team’s and nation’s psyche to cope with the pressure of a penalty shootout. To do this, along the way, I challenged locals to penalties, using the scooter as a goalpost. When they scored I would film their Goal celebrations with a replica World Cup that I had brought along for the occasion.”

Or as Hallett’s website explains: (1) take a penalty against me. (2) score. (3) grab the world cup and celebrate in YOUR own way.

penalty shootout1

The trip began in February 2014 and the Fulham fan, has since then passed through 18 of the 32 countries taking part in the Brazil world cup where he staged his penalty shoot-outs at iconic stadia along the way. After parking up at stadia on matchdays, he amused the local supporters by challenging them to take a penalty against him.

His epic charity trip has seen him ride over the Alps in Europe and Andes in South America.

In London, Chris and his scooter visited Tottenham Hotspur’s White Hart Lane, meeting ex-England star Gary Mabbutt, Fulham’s Craven Cottage and Wembley Stadium.

He then rode to over a dozen European grounds including Paris Saint Germain’s Parc des Princes, Ajax’s Amsterdam Arena, AC Milan’s San Siro, Barcelona’s Nou Camp, Real Madrid’s Bernabeu and Benfica’s Stadium of Light.

And in the Americas, stadia he has ticked off include LA Galaxy’s StubHub Center, Estadio Azteca (Mexico) and La Bombonera, where Boca Juniors play in Buenos Aires.

Estadio Azteca Mexico Estadio Azteca

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– using his scooter as one of the goalposts. If his opponent scores, they get to lift the golden replica World Cup trophy while he films their exuberant goal celebrations to show online.

Most people are a little bit cautious when you first approach them but the sidecar always gets a positive reaction and hearing how terrible England are at penalties makes them smile.

‘And if they score a penalty, they soon run to the scooter, grab the World Cup from its basket and start dancing and kissing it.’

penalty celebration

He added: ‘At Ajax, a woman who worked in the office there had a got all suited and booted and wearing high heels.

‘Goalkeeping is not my strong point anyway but I did let her score as she was so game and she did an elegant pirouette for the camera.

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‘Rather worryingly, the most saves I have made was from English men when I was starting out in London. I just hope Roy Hodgson has got the England team practising as many penalties as I am facing.’

Along the way he also met up with as many Vespa clubs and enthusiasts as possible. Some of which turned out to be excellent penalty shooters…..logically rarely aiming for the Vespa that served as a goalpost.

the Club Vespa DF Mexico

the Club Vespa DF Mexico

Vespa lovers in Mexico

Chris said that his trip had been “exhausting but exhilarating”. He said: “I am a bit knackered. My backside definitely feels like I have ridden 15,000 miles.

While riding across the Swiss Alps, he took time out for some snowboarding and a chilly kickabout.

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He said: ‘The biggest challenge has been driving up to 12 hours a day in the cold and wet.
‘On the motorway in northern Italy, I got caught in a hailstorm and the visibility was as if I was standing in the shower with my helmet on.
‘Logically, a sidecar is the worst of all worlds compared to a motorbike and car.
‘Unlike on a motorbike, I cannot filter through traffic or travel at high speed; unlike in a car I cannot stay warm and dry or transport as many possessions. ‘The sidecar also handles like a pig – but I just like it.’

He added: ‘But as an average bloke, riding my Vespa to watch football matches all over the world is a perfect fit. ‘It takes travelling, motorbikes and football and rolls it all into one big adventure.’

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He said: “Obviously, the easier option would be to fly to Brazil and sit on a beach waiting for the World Cup to begin. But where’s the fun in that?”

The Fulham fan has a ticket to cheer on Roy Hodgson’s side against Costa Rica in Belo Horizonte on June 24 and is upbeat about England’s chances in Brazil.

He said: “If Roy Hodgson has got the team practising as many penalties as I am facing, they could go far.”
“In fact, I expect us to beat Brazil in the final on penalties. And if that prediction comes true I’ll ride naked up and down Copacabana Beach.”

Donations to UNICEF can be made via Chris’s website scootersforgoalposts.com

Hallett crossed the border into Brazil from Uruguay on June 5 and reached Rio just after that. All in time to attend the biggest football fest on the planet. And to ride naked up and down Copacabana Beach…..maybe?!’

Sources: dailymail.co.uk, London Evening Standard, scootersforgoalposts.com/

About MarcF

Global wanderer of the world. Avid cyclist, skier/snowboarder and passionate ping-pong player. Can't live without mountains in my vincinity. Fascinated by cryptocurrencies and hackerspace-like collaborative creations. Linguaphile with a special interest in Chinese, Russian & Spanish. Lover of both good & cheap wines, random facts and singing in the shower. Travel and backpacking remain my first true love. The crazier and more original those earthly exploits the better!