Brazilian volleyball legend Giba is making a comeback, and bringing his talents to London.
Considered as the best wing spiker of his generation, the 42-year old legend will be a great addition to the team when they march in the Super 8s final round on April 14.
Aside from playing for the top English club, Giba is now also one of its shareholders. This means, he has a bigger mission in London than just winning another chip.
He had already made an impact in his debut as he helped the national squad captured the South American Championship title in 1995. They won the World Grand Champions Cup in 1997 before losing to Italy in a heartbreaking five-set match at the 1998 World Championships.
Another painful defeat, this time at the 2002 World League against Russia, would later propel the Brazilians to build a dynasty in the volleyball world.
The 2000s were regarded as the Golden Era of the Brazilian volleyball. During these years, Giba was also making big waves in the sport. Aside from his exceptional skills and monster vertical jump, he was loved by many for his leadership and energy.
After that loss to the Russians, the world-class outside hitter spearheaded Brazil’s dominance in the next 11 international tournaments.
The Brazilians went on to win 5 World League titles, 2 World Championships, 2 World Cups, the World Grand Champions Cup, and the 2004 Olympics in Athens, where Giba was named as the Most Valuable Player.
But as they say, in sports, legends come and go.
Giba decided to hang up his jersey in 2014. He was inducted in the International Volleyball Hall of Fame last year in Massachusetts for his huge contribution in the sport.
London Calling: Why Giba Is Coming Back
He was chosen as head of the organisation’s Athletic Commission, which serves as the link between the FIVB and volleyball players around the world.
Five years since his retirement though, Giba is making a comeback. Tapped as a reinforcement in London, he will come out of retirement to help IBB Polonia seize the English Super League title.
Aside from this, he is also tasked to facilitate the growth of volleyball in the country.
“London has an amazing potential as a city, and IBB Polonia London has an unbelievable potential to do something spectacular thanks to the people who have such passion and love for volleyball. I finished my career, but this sport still lives in my heart. I am returning to the field of play, because our sport needs people that can attract fans and sponsors,”
Meanwhile, Polonia London VC President Bartek Luszcz, said they expect the Brazilian legend to make an impact not just on their team but also to English volleyball in general.
“We have already had a World Champion in our squad, now the time for the next step has come and we have signed an Olympic Champion. This is yet another monumental success to have such a multi titled player in our squad. Giba is known the whole world over and he still takes an active role in promoting this sport. For this reason we believe that his presence in London will delight numerous fans and the arena will be full to the rafters on the day of the game. We urge everyone to come and be part of this match and to see a real legend in action. I am confident that, not only will the Club benefit, but the whole of English volleyball.”
Changing A Culture: Giba’s Legacy For London
Volleyball is the 29th most popular sport in England according to a 2017 research.
While it remains as an exciting and competitive sport, only few British players have the burning desire to play due to a lack of program and funding from its government.
Their national teams were disbanded after the 2012 London Olympics.
Its beach volleyball team received limited budget while the indoor squad remained cashless for eights years now.
A handful of national team players have decided to leave the sport because of funding cuts. And there is not much to influence the young people to play the sport.
But with world-class players like Giba set to play in the country’s semi-pro league, there is still hope that English volleyball can kick-start a new culture. Every impact he will make is a big step towards growth.
And hopefully, more international stars will play in UK so the government could see that the sport has a potential and a place in this country.
Good luck, Giba!
How to watch Giba play in London for IBB Polonia
For Brazilian fans in the UK they are lucky enough to watch & meet Giba in person at Crystal Palace Sports Center in London on April 14th 2019. Tickets are for sale on Eventbrite and are limited so don’t delay if you are keen.
If you aren’t able to make the game in person or live outside of the UK then you can watch the game live via Volleyverse – watch out for updates on social and on our website.