The first two sports events I recall attending are engrained into my memory.
Benfica vs. Academica at the old Estádio da Luz. An unremarkable 1-1 draw if I am not mistaken, but the memory I retain is of our Captain - António Veloso - just a few feet away taking a throw in (!). It was the first of many (MANY) football matches I was lucky enough to attend with my dad. Benfica in the rain, Benfica away games, Benfica over lunch, Benfica family gatherings, Benfica gym class, Benfica swim class, Benfica shirts, Benfica scarves. You get the drift but needless to say Benfica was a big part of my family life growing up.
That sense of sharing a tribe with my dad, with my grandparents, is a strong bond and a DNA string I hope to pay forward.
A couple of years later, in 1990, I recall attending the very first ATP Estoril Open, organised by João Lagos - Portugal's first and foremost sporting entrepreneur and a man I am proud to call a friend today.
A young and keen tennis player myself, I was overjoyed to see my heroes battle it out on the clay courts. At one point I was lucky enough to enjoy a short rally with my all time tennis hero Emilio Sanchez, after realising he was practicing in the court next to mine. That same week my brother and I would be the lucky fans to grab his overgrip and wrist band, post match.
That simple feeling of individual belonging that only tennis delivers, got me hooked.
Sports went on to play a massive roll in my life - not only emotionally, and as a conduit for family time, but specially on the field. The bonds I built in tennis and football live with me to this day.
At times I run into Pedro Mota, my team mate for many a year, I cant help but remember how his fast paced, muscular midfield slaloms would tear teams apart and ultimately create space for us up front. Come to think of it, he produced what Renato Sanches was so praised for this summer.
Other times I bump into some of the kids I coached years later and chuckle as they address me as "Mr. João". And I often reminisce fondly over a summer spent in Canada running the Kick Off Soccer School with my long gone friend, Pandelis.
And nothing has ever brought me as close to my brother as the 3 hour tennis duels we would play daily during our summer break in the Algarve.
The huge joys of team work pulling the individuals through the finish line, vs the relentless power of a tennis mind that knows they have a fighting chance to win right through to the last point of the match.
All this to say that sports isn't just sports. Sports is the mother of all experiences. The holy grail of relationship building touch points, and the original spark of conversations.
Our mission as a company is clearer to me now than it ever was: we want to bring all of this baggage to help brands start relationships through sports. Because we also believe that's how sports will continue to thrive.
SW19 was created to initially pursue a padel project. It was named using a post code from the city I will forever call home (London), and the location which hosts my all time favourite sports event (Wimbledon).
And all of this brings us to today, to this brand. We are (proudly) SW19 Sports & Entertainment.