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09.12.2016, 12:50◄ last page     

AROUND THE WORLD: Handball in Brazil is on the rise. The national team reached the quarter-finals of their home Olympics, and five Brazilians are playing in Europe's top-level club competition.

Brazilians want to stand out in Europe

Brazil is known for samba, warm weather, beautiful beaches, Carnival, soap operas. And, maybe, one day for handball.

During the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in August, the world could witness and experience this Brazilian spirit with the world-best athletes competing in many sports, also in handball.

The home team reached the quarter-finals for their best ever Olympic result, showing the world that Brazilian handball is growing.

This season five Brazilian players are competing in the VELUX EHF Champions League: José Toledo (Orlen Wisla Plock), Rogerio Moraes (HC Vardar), Thiagus dos Santos (MOL-Pick Szeged), Arthur Patrianova (RK Celje Pivovarna Lasko) and Haniel Langaro (Naturhouse La Rioja).

They left behind the Brazilian heat to improve in Europe by joining the world’s leading club competition.

“We did a great job at the Olympics and got into the focus of the world of handball,” La Rioja left back Langaro says.

Childhood dream

Langaro started playing handball as an eight-year-old kid. He left Brazil 12 years later as agreed on a contract with the Spanish club.

“I think every player dreams of playing in Europe and, for me, playing at an European team helps me a lot to evolve and to grow tactically and individually,” Langaro says.

At 21, he made his debut in the Champions League and fulfilled a childhood dream and a professional goal.

“I feel very good and very happy,” he says. “I play at one of the big clubs in Europe and I feel I am at home in Logroño.”

Plock right back Toledo also left Brazil at age 20 to play in Spain, at Granollers. One year later, he played his first Champions League game the Wisla Plock.

“For me it is important to play handball in Europe to evolve and to achieve more as a player and a Brazilian,” says Toledo, who is now living his professional dream.

Biggest obstacle

“I think everything is a process and when you have a dream of playing outside of Brazil, you can not think about the obstacles you will face,” Langaro says.

Toledo also agrees he likes to “experience new cultures” and he never thought about language barriers when he came to Europe.

“Of course it is always a difficulty but not a decisive one when I made this decision,” he adds.

For Langaro it has been easy to adapt to the Spanish food and language, but he is constantly missing his family and friends.

However, for both players, the biggest obstacle of living in Europe is the weather. They acknowledge that the cold seasons, which they do not have in Brazil, have been the biggest barriers in their adaptation process.

A 'fair' price

The number of Brazilian players in European leagues is growing, making it easier for them to improve and stand out.

“Many Brazilians come to Europe because we have good players. And in Brazil we do not earn much and here we get to do our job for a ‘fair’ price,” Toledo says.

Spain, Portugal and some teams in France have already import many Brazilian players, who are looking to improve their handball and compete in stronger leagues and in countries “which really appreciate the sport.”

“Brazilian handball is diferent. The domestic league is too short,” Toledo explains.

Langaro thinks Spain is importing the most Brazilian players nowadays.

“A lot of players came from Brazil to play in the Asobal League, and some have already gone to the bigger teams in Europe,” says Langaro, adding that Brazilian national team coach Jordi Ribera als plays an important role in the emergence of “more and more Brazilian players of great quality.”

Both players believe that Brazilians benefit from coming to Europe as they learn to play a different type of handball.

“Brazilian handball, in my opinion, is much more individual and European handball is much more tactical and collective,” Langaro says.

Looking to improve

After some years in Europe Langaro and Toledo like to remember their Champions League debuts and the honours they got, like being chosen in the top 5 goals or being voted best player of the match. Those accomplishments inspire them to improve and become better players.

Still, both Brazilians have a few goals left to achieve.

“I have the dream of playing for one of the biggest teams in Europe, like Paris Saint-Germain, FC Barcelona or SG Flensburg-Handewitt,” Langaro says.

Toledo also admires PSG, FC Barcelona and Veszprém, and maybe his future could be with one of those teams.

Until then, they want to continue to make the difference for their teams and to go even further in this edition of the Champions League.

TEXT: Filipa Sousa / ew

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