Superliga volleyball matches stream live across television screens in bars and restaurants throughout every city. Billboards featuring the faces of volleyball legends stand tall in the streets. Sand courts and venders selling volleyballs dot the sandy coastline. Here, the volleyball fans are knowledgable, passionate and everywhere.
This is volleyball country. This is Brazil.
When it comes to the Olympics, Brazilian volleyball players are accustomed to the podium. Going into the 2016 games as the host country, the federation has expectations to add to their medal count. However the home court advantage of the Olympic games brings with it the baggage of immeasurable social pressure for its athletes and coaches. The pressure extends far beyond the sidelines of the volleyball court.
Brazil’s rich tradition of world wide volleyball dominance roots back to the tiny beach town of Saquarema. While Brazil’s big cities like São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro are rough around the edges with layers of complexity, Saquarema has a relaxed coastal vibe with a sense of timelessness to it. It’s white sandy beaches are bare of development. The town lacks sky scrapers, shopping malls and just about every other type of distraction that attract tourists to Brazil’s larger and more well known neighboring cities.
But it is in this sleepy beach town that the road to the podium for every Brazilian volleyball player starts at an exclusively dedicated volleyball training center called CBV (Confederação Brasileira de Voleibol). In honor of their history the doors of the dormitories are marked with names of local legends like Jacqueline Silva, Walewska, Enio Figuieredo, and of course Giba. Inspirational quotes hang above doorways and banners with larger than life size photos string across the interior brick walls. This is where the Brazilian national volleyball teams eat, sleep, practice, workout and live day-to-day in preparation for their big dance.
In November 2015, Bring It Promotions took A5 volleyball club out of Atlanta, Georgia to this sacred center of Brazilian volleyball history. A5’s decision to travel and compete in Brazil over the Thanksgiving Holiday was largely inspired by the club’s proclaimed social mission – “teaching life lessons through the sport of volleyball”.
Over the course of the 9-day tour, A5 volleyball club watched the best players in the world compete in Brazilian Superliga matches, listened to the testimonials of Olympians, competed against youth teams in 4 different cities, danced at an authentic Samba School, paid tribute to the famed ‘Christ the Redeemer’, soaked up the sun at Copacabana Beach, lived a day in the life of a Brazilian YNT volleyball player and made friendships that transcend both foreign borders and language barriers.
Best of all, they learned that in Brazil volleyball is more than just a game. It’s a lifestyle and a path to a better a life for many. When the 2016 Olympics come around next August, Brazil will have a devoted cheering squad in Atlanta, Georgia.
Thank you A5.