Lusófona University: a success story in its own way
News from the National Federations
Porto, Portugal, April 6, 2013. João Diogo Saudade e Silva recently opened the doors of the Lusófona University to showcase its flagship project: the Lusófona Volleyball Club.
As time comes for practice, children quickly make it to the sports hall. The classes are dismissed and it is finally time for fun. Through the joy and energy spread around by so many youngsters, it’s evident that Volleyball is well present in the students’ community.
Ten years after it was implemented, the Volleyball program has already conquered its space, as the program founder and current coordinator reveals: “A decade after its birth, Lusófona is a club full of energy, with a well-defined project. The growth came along with quantity and fortunately with quality as well. It suffered an evolution that sometimes frightens us. We started with a convicted idea, which did grow until we became a women’s Volleyball reference in Portugal. Nowadays we are seen as good opponents, as a team that fights for titles, but the growth was sustained by sticking to deep educational values” João Saudade stresses. “Our goal as a club is to maintain the teams, to create conditions in order to receive more athletes and to improve our level. I believe that the current strategy is adequate and also meets the goals and standards set for young athletes by our Federation, like those outlined in Gira-Volei. Volleyball became a reference within the University. It’s a common project and a communication strategy for the institution, which is highly gratifying” he adds.
João Azeitona Correia is the women’s team head coach, which is consolidating its position in the national league after finishing first in last year’s second division. “The championship title should be seen as the major result after three years of hard work. In the year before we had finished second and lost the title in a 3-2 match as we were very close to win. And when you are at the verge of success, sometimes you win, sometimes you don’t, but sooner or later the goal is achieved, and that is exactly what happened last year. The championship title is a great motivation for our team and showed us that we are on the right track” João Correia says.
Sara Serrano sets the example within Lusófona VC. Despite her young age, the women’s team captain doesn’t seem to feel the pressure stemming from being under the spotlight. “It’s great to be this team’s captain. I put an effort to be a role model not only for my team but for the other teams as well. Currently I’m the main setter but I know that I have to continue working hard and to improve, and that’s what I also try to pass on to the younger players. My message to them is: work hard. It’s important to love Volleyball as all Lusófona teams do, and they need to seize all chances they have to practice, because later they will be rewarded for their efforts” she stresses.
“I play at Lusófona from the beginning of the season. I believe the work being done here is ambitious, with high goals and with a lot of effort from the athletes and the coaching staff. My personal goal is to obtain the maximum by playing in the national team and to help reaching the best possible results. Cohesion and joy on the playing field are the words that describe the best our team’s spirit” says Margarida Reis, an 18-year old who is a member of Portugal’s junior national team.
“I started here at Lusófona four years ago. I was invited by the coach, who introduced me to Volleyball, and despite I had never practiced any sport, I came to the workouts, I enjoyed it and stayed. Afterwards I left Lusófona but I returned this year. This season has been quite different from the previous because this team has many young athletes. I took much pleasure in returning to Lusófona, and I’m enjoying every single moment. This group is united and I’m learning a lot. Any athlete who is called wants to remain in the national team. And those who were never called certainly want to reach that goal too” concludes Neusa Neto, a middle-blocker who stands at 190 cm and is also a member of the junior national team.