Beach volleyball pioneer Jackie Silva returns to Portugal
Porto, Portugal, July 10, 2013 - Jacqueline Louise Cruz Silva, better known as Jackie Silva, was one of the pioneers of Brazilian beach volleyball. A colourful and hot-blooded player who was a true ambassador for her country and beach volleyball. Now, at the age of 51, she is helping Jamaica warm up to the sport.
Silva retired in 2004 having gathered 12 gold medals on the World Tour, two World Tour titles in 1995 and 1996, the World Championship title in 1997 and a gold medal at the first Olympic beach volleyball tournament in 1996.
One of the many World Tour events she won with team partner Sandra Pires was the Espinho tournament in Portugal in 1996. Now, 17 years later, she returns to Portugal as a coach at the FIVB Beach Volleyball U19 World Championships in Porto.
“I own a beach volleyball school in Rio de Janeiro, but I also coach teams from Jamaica”, Silva said. “This is part of an exchange programme that Brazil signed with the Caribbean island.“
“I started just a month ago and it’s totally different because the sport is not very widespread in Jamaica.”
Silva came with two Jamaican teams to the U19 World Championships in Porto, 14-year old Tionna Graham and Lisanne Roofe and Rojey Hutchinson and Bryan Shavar, both 16.
“The girls are very young and inexperienced, but the boys are talented and ambitious. The goal is to participate and gain experience in preparation for the Youth Olympic Games.” This event is staged in August next year in Nanking, China.
Observe, participate and dream
“I want these athletes to experience the competition, to observe, to dream about reaching higher, participate and feel the competition, because this experience will be very important for their future.”
According to Silva beach volleyball has grown a lot since she retired. "Since me and Sandra won the first Olympic tournament, in 96, the sport has evolved. Beach volleyball is better now, with the rise of some countries, especially the Europeans, who had no great tradition in this sport.”
“Brazil and the United States are no longer the only powerhouses. The Chinese women, who had no tradition in beach volleyball, are also very strong now.”
Players and agents at the same time
The entourage also changed. “Before we were players and agents at the same time. I have to say that it had its advantages because it made most athletes responsible, creative and spontaneous.”
Silva has fond memories of Portugal. She competed at five World Tour events in Espinho, winning the 1996 edition with Sandra Pires.
"I know the city of Espinho very well, but this beach in Porto is more like those in Rio de Janeiro. I love Portugal, I am able to speak Portuguese and I just love the Portuguese food; cod, sardines and of course accompanied by a good beer."