Brazil veterans Walewska and Carol Gattaz return for Grand Champions Cup
Returning to the team are two old faces – Walewska Oliveira and Carol Gattaz – who responded to a request from coach Jose Roberto Guimaraes to join the squad. Along with the 12 other players, the two veterans are readapting to life in the Aryzão, the Centre of Volleyball Development in Saquarema, Brazil, and want to help Brazil win their fifth title of the year.
The Brazilian team that will compete in the World Grand Champions Cup consists of setters Claudinha and Fabiola, central blockers Adenízia, Fabiana, Carol Gattaz and Walewska, spikers Fernanda Garay, Natalia, Michelle and Tandara, opposites Sheilla and Monique and liberos Camila Brait and Fabi.
The World Grand Champions Cup will be played in the cities of Nagoya and Tokyo, and Brazil will be up against the United States, Thailand, Japan, Russia and the Dominican Republic. Brazil won gold in 2005 and silver in 2009. This year, Brazil have competed in four major competitions – tournaments in Alassio and Montreux, the FIVB World Grand Prix and the South American Championship – and won them all.
For coach Ze Roberto, the return of the two central blockers will be important to give the squad some balance as they are missing Thaísa, Juciely and Gabi due to injuries.
“I want to rotate the players because they are having to compete in many championships,” the coach said. “The players are overloaded, so the idea is to rotate the team.
“Walewska has a strong link with the national team. She accepted to return for a short tournament that won’t need too much preparation time in order to help replace some important players. She's always been a very supportive player. Most important is the experience we’ll gain. Players like Walewska and Carol Gattaz are important to have as standards for the younger players to live up to.”
On returning to the national team, Olympic gold medallist Walewska says she is taking things one day at a time.
“It’s a really positive thing for me but I'm still readjusting,” she says. “A lot has changed in Aryzão. Five years have passed since my last game for the national team. I never thought about returning, but after Zé’s request, I reconsidered my position and decided to think about. First, I will play in the World Grand Champions Cup and afterwards take it from there.”
Carol Gattaz, who last played in the 2010 World Cup, says coming back is a great achievement.
“It’s a dream to be back,” she admitted. “I had some physical problems for some time but this year I have been very focused and I think I have been rewarded for my dedication. I still have a great desire to represent my country and want to help the squad.”
Ze Roberto realises winning a fifth tournament this year will be a tough challenge.
“It’s going to take some work to win against all our opponents,” he stressed. “We’ll be up against continental champions, with the exception of the Dominican Republic, who are still tough opponents and have a Brazilian coach. Japan is always a tricky game with their defence and technique, while Asian champions Thailand always make opposing teams work hard. Then you have the United States and Russia, who are the strongest teams in the competition.”
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