45 years ago, when US sports officials worked to raise the profile of football in the country, they excluded Brazilian star Pelé. The sports icon had won his third World Cup five years earlier and the New York Cosmos thought it was just a name to promote the North American Football League’s image internationally.
Times have certainly changed and the scenario is not exactly the same, but there were similar expectations when volleyball star Sheila Castro was presented as the latest addition to the next Athlete Volleyball Unlimited League at the Zoom conference call on Wednesday, the latest professional women. Attempt to create. Volleyball in America.
The competition begins in February in Nashville. Read about it here.
“I thought about it a lot and I have every expectation about it,” said Jon Patricof, CEO and co-founder of Athletic Unlimited. “Volleyball is one of the fastest growing sports in the United States and we believe that the addition of our league and Sheila and other players will help the sport achieve a level of cultural awareness and relevance as it did with football Was.
“When I was a New Yorker, Pelé joined the Cosmos and I remember those days. Pelé is recognized as one of the greatest athletes in the world and I believe Sheila with volleyball Can also do this.
The 37-year-old opponent has yet to achieve the same status as his famous compatriot, but it is hard to argue that he is one of the most successful players in the history of volleyball and with the ability to attract thousands of fans Is one of Players. Native to Asia from your South America, no matter where you play.
Gold medalist in the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Olympic Games, Sheila is one of the most charismatic figures in the sport and holds celebrity status in Brazil. The United States has a long and victorious history in volleyball and the presence of talented players such as Jordan Larson and Karsta Lowe would not make Brazil feel underweight, which might have been the same for Pelé in the past.
Athlete Unlimited hopes that their participation in the six-week league will take them to another level, especially with international audiences.
“I am really looking forward to contributing to the development of the championship and the game, the way Pelé did,” Sheila said. “Having a strong professional league in a sports country as strong as the United States will greatly benefit international volleyball and I want to be a part of it and help develop it from the first season.
“When they passed, my first reaction was that he wasn’t really interested, but when I started talking to people and getting more information about his plans, it became mindless. . ”
Unlike Pelé, who moved to New York in the twilight of her career, Sheila still has at least one major career goal and hopes to help her two-month stay in Nashville.
After winning two consecutive Olympic gold medals, the Veteran was devastated at home in Rio after finishing a tough fifth four years ago. After that, it is believed that when he left the game, his international career ended. Giving birth to twins Liz and Ninna in 2018 and flirt seriously with a move to beach volleyball.
But then her competitive spirit returned and she decided to return to the court, spending less time with the local team Minas Tennis Clube, where she was a partner of American Deja McClendon, who would also compete in a league of unlimited athletes in volleyball. . Sheila also returned to the national team.
“My international career did not end the way I wanted in Rio, so I decided to go back and try my best to get another chance in Tokyo.” “Playing in the United States will help me do that.
“The season will be short, which will be good for my body, and I will play with great players and challenge my game in a format that demands a lot of us every day. I talked about this possibility in Brazil. ‘S coach Jose Roberto Guimares and we thought it would be a great opportunity, so here I am.