“Points machine” Sheilla Castro: Grandma lays the foundation for an amazing career
Sheilla Castro collects big titles in much the same way as others collect stamps. In last week’s final of the FIVB Volleyball Women’s Club World Championship in Zurich she had to ‘settle’ for silver after a 0:3 defeat to Dinamo Kazan, but it goes without saying that the captain of top Brazilian team Molico Osasco already had this title in her impressive and unique collection. She won the showdown between the best club teams in the world with her team back in 2012. The Brazilian was not only the top scorer at this tournament, but was also named MVP.
This has been something of a reoccurring theme over the past decade. The phenomenal “points machine” is one of the key factors behind the Brazilian national team’s spectacular run of success: she won Olympic gold with the Selecao in 2008 and 2012, claimed five titles in both the FIVB World Grand Prix and the South American Championships, and triumphed on two occasions in the FIVB Volleyball Grand Champions Cup. However, despite being one of the greatest players of all time, one title still eludes Castro: the FIVB Women’s World Championships.
In 2006 and 2010 she came up just short, having to ‘make do’ with silver after 2:3 defeats against Russia in the final. Four years ago in Japan, even Sheilla’s 26 points were not enough to secure victory. Castro now has her sights set on changing all that when Italy hosts the FIVB World Championships from September 23 to October 12. Despite being accustomed to success, Brazil’s women have still never won gold in the history of the competition. As such, success would be rather special, even for a title collector like Sheilla Castro.
Maybe victory at the FIVB World Championships would be the greatest moment in her career. As it stands, the two Olympic gold medals are the 30-year-old’s pride and joy. Sheilla Castro was named Brazil’s best female athlete of 2012 on the back of the latest Olympic gold, just under two years ago. Coach Ze Roberto praised Castro at this event, saying: “Sheilla deserves this award. She was instrumental in us winning Olympic gold in London as she saved five of six match points against Russia in the quarter-finals. Volleyball is a team sport but has moments of individualism.”
And Sheilla Castro is undoubtedly one of the biggest personalities in world volleyball, even though the modest lady always talks down her role in any such accolades: “I want to share such awards with all the players who were with me on the court, because volleyball is a team sport.” The fact that she dedicated the award in 2012 to her grandmother typifies Sheilla Castro’s character – and shows just how important her grandmother was to the start of her amazing career.
“I was raised by my grandmother Therese, since I was three years old. My mother worked and grandmother did not like to leave me with the babysitter. Me and my younger brother Victor ended up moving in with her,” she once explained. She subsequently developed a ritual of phoning her grandmother before every match.
Her family nudged her in the direction of volleyball in school. “I started playing when I was 12. I was really tall and I really liked it.” Her extraordinary talent soon caught the eye. She was selected for her state Minas Gerais, and then the Brazilian youth team: “Becoming a professional player was something that came naturally...”
As a young lady, Sheilla Castro moved to Italy, where she spent four years playing for Scavolini Pesaro between 2004 and 2008. Even today, long after her return from Italy, she still cooks and enjoys eating Italian cuisine. But what makes her such a good volleyball player? “Volleyball is my life. I am a happy player and love key moments,” she said. Then there is the attractive, 1.85m Brazilian’s extraordinary attacking prowess, variability, finesse and experience.
Despite her success, Sheilla Castro remains a modest and rather shy person. Volleyball opened the door to an incredible career: “I believe that sport is an excellent educational and social tool.” And one that can also yield the odd title…
Read more about players to look out for at this year's World Championships:
Georg Grozer: The man with the hammer
Jovana Brakocevic: All round talent has mum to thank for introduction to volleyball
Dmitry Muserskiy: The lighthouse of the volleyball world