Brazil’s Female Universiade Roster is a Comfortable Lie

  0 Liam Smith | August 22nd, 2017 | Brazilian Volleyball, International Volleyball, News, South American Volleyball

2017 Taipei Summer Universiade (World University Games) – Women’s Tournament

I was still an undergrad back in 2011 when I got involved with a research group that studied quality of life indicators in different populations. I had been dating my now wife for a couple of months and was getting used to see her trying to juggle her volleyball career and academics as a junior in a good physiotherapy program. I had been a student athlete myself, but student-athlete relations to society in the USA are much different than from the rest of the world, and I wanted to specifically investigate Brazil’s collegiate athletics environment.

That is when I had the “brilliant” idea to start studying the quality of life of Brazlian “collegiate athletes.” My professor at the time loved the idea and I even got a government grant to help finance it. The study, which was later published in an academic journal, really took off.

Towards the end of my grant, Universiade 2011 in Shenzhen, China was coming around. I thought it was my big break, since my girlfriend had only just recently won the MVP award for the national college season, and in my mind, was an obvious choice to be considerate for a roster spot at the female national college volleyball team. I thought that with her help, I could surely get to interview the coaches and all of the players.

I remember clearly that when I mentioned this to her, she just laughed and dismissed me promptly. “I am never getting picked,” she said. I didn’t understand at first. Wasn’t she and some of her teammates the collegiate national champs, and wasn’t she the nation’s best college player?

Evidently, that wasn’t how things worked back then, and is not how they work right now. Brazil only sends established players to Universiade, at least in female volleyball. And that is exactly what they did this year in  Taipei. The nation’s volleyball governing body sent to this year’s tournament only professional players, with numerous Superliga seasons under their belts, that were quickly enrolled in online degrees in the same private university just weeks prior to Universiade.

Every single on of them, from a single university, on online degrees. Sounds like a scam?

A quick look at Brazil’s roster shows this.  The fans might recognize 28 year old Mayhara da Silva, 25 yeard old Natiele Gonçalves, and 24 year old Carolina Leite from the roster of current Superliga Champions SESC/Rio de Janeiro, Bernado Rezende’s team. Also, 27 year old Fernanda Tomé was just recently on the preliminary national team roster for the 2017 FIVB Grand Prix.

Ditto, the players are not the ones to blame here.  In a country with such rich volleyball history, they are but role players in good teams who otherwise would hardly ever have the chance of fulfilling their dreams of one day wearing Brazil’s national team uniform in a real senior competition. So when given the chance, they jump at it.

We all know this is not uncommon in Universiade with most of its sports and national delegations. We also all know  that Universiade’s rules are much more flexible than NCAA’s. Legally speaking, college students who are 28 years old or younger (that will change to 25 starting with the 2019 Summer Universiade) are eligible to compete if they have been in college classes in the last year before the event.

Still, is this what we want out of the tournament? Brazil is such a female volleyball powerhouse, with two gold medals in its history. Is throwing that beautiful history out of the window for an Universiade medal worth it, specially when the country is going through such political corruption crises and cultural ethical identity questioning? This, without even mentioning Brazil’s dire need to develop its youth players and college sports as a whole!

Wasn’t this the perfect opportunity to send to Taipei a real college team, which would in turn give younger players a chance to develop in such a big international tournament and help to further develop Brazil’s precarious college national league?

These are all question we as a nation need to ponder.

Brazil’s Team Roster

  • Ana Costa
  • Carolina Leite
  • Dalila Prado
  • Fernanda Tomé
  • Kasiely Clemente
  • Linda Costa
  • Mariana Barreto
  • Mayhara Silva
  • Natiele Gonçalves
  • Sarah Nather
  • Sonaly Cidrão
  • Viviane Braun

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