Philippine volleyball is set for a revamp with the entry of seasoned Brazilian coach Jorge Edson Souza de Brito.
As his contract begins on July 1, Souza de Brito will be focusing on the country’s campaigns in the 2021 Asian Women’s Championship in August and the 2021 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in November.
Get to know how the Brazilian could help set a new era for Philippine volleyball.
Souza de Brito aims to make Philippine volleyball an Asian superpower.
The Brazilian coach has had stints in Japan in the 2006 FIVB Women’s World Cup and mentored the Korean Air Jumbos, a men’s volleyball team in the Korean league from 2015 to 2016.
“We build a new one, a new order,” said Souza de Brito about his plans for the Philippines.
“Each country or continent has its own way of playing volleyball and it’s impossible to change everything,” he said.
“But I’m looking forward to make the team stronger and make the athletes understand the sport better. We all have to work altogether, so we can see what kind of volleyball we can produce.”
Souza de Brito isn't expecting big changes yet when the team sees action in the Asian Women’s Championship, a tournament the Philippine National Volleyball Federation (PNVF) plans to host, but he wants to see the country land a podium finish in the 2021 SEA Games.
“It’s too early to make a change for the Asian championship, but for November, it would be different,” he said. “Four months is actually not enough a time, but we’ll do our best, some changes will happen.”
Souza de Brito will be working with the national women’s team coaches led by the veteran Odjie Mamon, and his assistants Tai Bundit and Grace Antigua.
But the 54-year-old coach, who was assigned this week by the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) to help the national women’s team program, said the team should expect to work hard under him.
“I could be the fatherly-type, but I want to push myself and the team, work hard to achieve goals,” added Souza de Brito.
The Philippines is no stranger to Souza de Brito.
He learned about the country from former volleyball star Leila Barros, who played for the Brazilian national team in the FIVB Grand Prix that Manila hosted in August 2000.
“Leila once told me that if ever it struck my mind to move elsewhere, I should be moving to the Philippines,” Souza de Brito said. Barros is now a senator in Brazil.
The Brazilian is excited for his stint with the Philippine team and he has been watching films on the country’s international campaigns like the 2019 SEA Games hosted in Manila.
He made sure to tune in to the national team tryouts in Subic that were uploaded across social media.
“I’m very happy to have this chance to come to the Philippines, it’s an honor,” he said. “I love volleyball and I love the passion Filipinos have for volleyball. They love the sport so much – and there are a lot of fans.”
Souza de Brito’s greatest achievement as a player was an Olympic gold medal in the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games.
“It was amazing, I can feel my body shaking, it’s a very special moment for all athletes,” he said about winning an Olympic gold. “It was the best emotion in my life.”
Though he was tapped to be an assistant coach of Brazil’s women’s team in the Beijing 2008 Olympics, he was left behind due to the limit on the number of coaches allowed to join the team.
He dreams of the day that he’ll be on the sidelines, when the Philippines wins a gold medal.
“I want to repeat that feeling again – in the Philippines, in the SEA Games,” said Souza de Brito.
Souza de Brito lives in Curitiba, a city in the southern part of Brazil. He is married to Raquele Lenartowicz, a 37-year-old former professional volleyball player.
They have 3 children – Julia (13), Anna Muiza (9) and Helena (4). His daughter from a previous marriage, Marina (23), also plays volleyball for Jackson State University, an NCAA southwestern Division 1 team.
As a teenager, Souza de Brito played both competitive football and volleyball, but decided to stick to volleyball when he was 17.
“When I was 12 to 17 years old, I played football and volleyball at the same time,” said Souza de Brito. “But when I was 17, I chose volleyball and became a member of the national juniors team.”
“The moment I chose volleyball, I never left the sport,” said the 6-foot-4 former middle blocker. – Rappler.com
More commonly known as “Bee”, Beatrice is a multimedia sports reporter for Rappler, who covers Phillippine sports governance, national teams, football and the UAAP. Stay tuned for her news and features on Philippine sports and videos like the Rappler Athlete’s Corner and Rappler Sports Timeout.