In her first exclusive column, Brazil star Beatriz Futuro Muhlbauer – commonly known as Baby – explains why she is counting down the days until women’s sevens gets the chance to put on a show in Sao Paulo … and then at Rio 2016.
To play at home is always exciting – to be able to perform in front of friends, family, and the whole of the Brazilian rugby community. When you manage to see a gap and break the opposition’s line of defence or make a monster tackle and hear the crowd go crazy, it seems as if you have an eighth player on the field.
Their emotion and passion becomes a force that feeds more energy, pride, and determination to those of us on the pitch. For the third time, on 20-21 February, we will again host the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series, known over here as Desafío BRA.
Welcoming the 12 best sevens teams in the world gives us a great opportunity to further promote our sport and bring more supporters to a sports market where we are gaining our foothold.
Brazil is a proud sporting nation; we love our soccer and other sports such as volleyball, handball, judo, and many others that have achieved outstanding results on the international stage. We recently had a surfing world champion, causing the sport’s popularity to skyrocket.
So, looking at it with a broad perspective, rugby is new to the country. Moreover, women’s rugby faces discrimination and prejudice through the traditional stereotypes of gender roles and femininity. As such, this international sevens tournament is the best way to showcase women’s rugby at its best.
The HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series is also essential for the Olympic Games. The top four teams from last year’s series automatically qualified for Rio 2016. This year’s series is about how teams get ready for what will be an incredible opportunity for all of us, given that points collected in the series will directly impact Olympic pool seedings.
A DREAM COME TRUE
With each team experiencing this increased pressure to achieve the best possible results, we are focusing on and investing more in our preparation. When you think about the (dis)balanced equation, we spend thousands of hours training in order to play 14 minutes that matter. It is all about putting months of training into effect at the right time.
We recently spent a week in South Africa, at the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport, and it was a great opportunity to train, work out, recover, eat well, and play various games as we step-up preparations for the next round of the series.
It was a fruitful camp as we won seven of our eight games against the Springbok women’s sevens squad and we worked on the strategies we want to use moving forward. Another key aspect was that we spent a week together, getting to know each other more and enjoying the company of another competitive team.
Even if we were opponents within the white chalk, off the field we shared common experiences and had fun with “ma friends” – that is what we call each other. One of the essential qualities of rugby – built upon values of integrity, passion, solidarity, discipline and respect – is that, as a community, we embrace each rugby player and aficionado.
Soon, the Arena Barueri will become a rugby stadium for a couple of days. It will be another opportunity to play at home and take advantage of the energy that comes from our fans. It will also be an opportunity for the fans to be part of our Olympic dream.
All our preparation has a goal on the horizon, and that is in August when women’s sevens rugby makes its debut at the Games. Brazil will be involved in the biggest celebration of international rugby.
For us, as players, it is a dream come true. More so, that all of this will happen at home.