Former ISA President, Former Brazilian President, Michael Zellner Speaks:

Dear Stan and Earl, I have not been avoiding you nor your request. In a time when we especially need positivity I am afraid anything I will say about the current status of Shuffleboard in Brazil will be disheartening.
Since my departure from Brazil and return to the US in 2014 and the change of direction taken by my co-founding partner Dr. Luiz Pimentel who since my departure dedicates his time to Golf and is competing on the professional circuit in Rio de Janeiro, the Presidency of the Brazilian Shuffleboard Association fell upon our youngest member Bernar Borges. Membership that was once near 75 members in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro is now down to a handful of members only in Rio de Janeiro. Bernar was advised by myself and Dr. Pimentel in 2016 to not host the ISA World Championship in 2017 due to insufficient planning and organizational support, lack of Brazilian players and most important insufficient funds with an unstable Brazilian economy.

Against our advice he proceeded and I will admit Bernar did the best job possible to host the event given those conditions. International travelers felt warm and I am so go glad enjoyed the 2017 ISA championship even with minimal amenities provided. That is what mattered most. In the end, and after doing all the work himself he was roughly $12,000 usd over budget and went to the ISA for additional funds since the Brazilian Association account balance was totally negative. As you can imagine that was embarrassing and not received well at all. In reality, No new growth has occurred and the Brazilian Shuffleboard Association budget is still negative. There are no players left from Sao Paulo. Unfortunately this is the reality despite Bernar’s exhaustive efforts. Brazil was not participating in ISA Championships in Vienna nor Australia and I doubt there will be sufficient players to form a team to travel to Texas in 2021 and apparently the new ISA rules no longer qualify me to compete on the Brazilian Team.

On a brighter side:
In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth and it is written that he rested on the 7th day.
It was on this 7th day in 1996 that Michael Zellner took it upon himself to built the first Shuffleboard Court in Brazil. lol

After retiring from the US Air Force in 1993, I accepted a job assignment at the US Embassy and moved with my family to Sao Paulo, Brazil. I left the Embassy In 1996 to become an English as a Foreign Language Professor at the University of Sao Paulo. This is where the story really begins. My wife and I constructed a mountaintop Chalet in a newly formed private community on the border of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. It was there that Shuffleboard in Brazil started. Next to the community pool was a fairly level grass lot that when I asked to use a portion of it for sports was approved.

I then travelled north to Seminole, Florida where I stopped into a place called, “Allen R. Shuffleboard” to get some guidance. I was immediately sold 4 cues, a set of disks, a bag of siliconed beads and the old man at the counter, whom I later discovered was the King of Shuffleboard- Sam Allen, tossed in a book titled “Shuffle-board Those Capricious Disks by Floyd Swem circa 1980 aka the bible. I followed it as best any total amateur could. Back in Brazil the neighbors were strangely watching me and mumbling to each other in Portuguese as I made the wooden frame and hand mixed cement that I later tossed into the frame and leveled it out with a horizontal board. Nobody dared ask the “Gringo” what he was up to. After it dried, I painted it solid green and added yellow lines just like they were in the book. After they dried, I began shooting disks from one side to the other to amuse myself for a few weeks. One day a tall lanky Brazilian man in his early 50’s stood in a distance watching intently as I did my routine disk shooting. He came forward and surprisingly asked me in perfect English, “Gringo what the hell are you doing?” From that point on Dr. Luiz Pimentel and I became the best of friends. I handed him a cue and we started shoving disks still trying to get some true idea of the game from the Shuffleboard bible laid out on the table. We agreed to meet on weekends to play the game which naturally attracted other curious neighbors and we had started something.

In the meantime, I had written to the ISA and found out that the 17th International World Tournament was to be held in Hendersonville, North Carolina in 1997 and I requested permission to bring some players and myself from Brazil. Dr. Pimentel and I threw together a rag tag group and officially registered it as the Associacao Brasileira de Shuffleboard known in english as the Brazilian Shuffleboard Association. John Barnett- ISA President was esthetic and immediately approved. We arrived and were given trainers and competed with kitchen helpers, parking attendants and anyone available in a special category known as the B-Division of the ISA. Michael Zellner who had the most hours of experience was elected the President of this newly formed Brazilian group and his faithful sidekick Dr. Luiz Pimentel became his sturdy VP. Together I promoted the sport in my home city of Sao Paulo and Luiz did the same in Rio De Janeiro.

(Pix by Stan: Eat your heart out!!) Together we grew the members to over 50 in 4 years and proudly hosted the Brazilian Shuffleboard inaugural in 2002 with exotic carnival dancers, open bars and lavish menus. Participants stated, “This will go down in history as the Inaugural of all Inaugurals in Shuffleboard.” Shuffleboard was truly on its way up in Brazil. In 2008, I stepped down as Brazilian President to become the ISA President and Dr. Pimentel took over the reigns. He stepped down in 2015 and Bernar Borges became the President. Brazilian shuffleboard teams have proudly competed in ISA World Tournaments from 1997 to 2018 achieving the Silver Medal in the Mens Division in St. Cloud, Florida.

Michael R. Zellner
1st Brazilian President:

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2 Responses to Former ISA President, Former Brazilian President, Michael Zellner Speaks:

  1. debsturat says:

    Thanks for sharing!

    Like

  2. Earl A Ball says:

    Brazil is such a wonderful Country with wonderful people!
    I hope shuffleboard will make a recovery.

    Like

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