February began with a great achievement for the Black Pearls. Thanks to a partnership with the Veiga de Almeida University (UVA), 22 athletes of the U-20 teams were invited to go through medical, dental, nutritional and psychological examinations at the college’s modern Health Center in Rio.
The boys were divided in three groups and circulated, with the usual relaxation, around the six floors of the building going trought a long series of examinations with a dedicated personnel and cutting-edge equipment. The bus arrived at the Health Center at 10am and returned to the Coffee Valley, where the Academy is located, at the end of the day.
This important off-field victory was only the first stage of a partnership that will help the Black Pearls to face even greater challenges than they did last year when they won the Carioca Championship Series C in the Professional and U-20 categories and secured a position to play the B2 Series in 2018. The tournament begins in May.
According to Dr. Luiz Santoro, who works with the Black Pearls, it is an innovative partnership that will allow a multidisciplinary assessment of the health of all athletes:
– It encompasses several areas of health care. We have nursing care, physiotherapy, psychology, nutrition, dentistry, speech therapy. These activities together give people the condition of looking at each of the athletes in an individualized and segmented way within these areas of activity. This makes our pre-season work much easier.
Santoro cited the laboratory tests that were performed and said that athletes will start the pre-season completely checked from the health point of view, with cardiological evaluation and all exams up to date. He thanked Veiga de Almeida University:
– It will be a differential for the Pearls, and we have much to thank to Veiga de Almeida. We did this test with the Under-20 boys as a pilot model, and we will make it into the preseason of the professional cast. Through this partnership we are giving the Black Pearls a cutting-edge structure for the evaluation of these athletes.
Luis Claudio Campos, director of operations at the Veiga de Almeida Health Center, believes that the partnership was also beneficial for the UVA:
– It is an unparalleled opportunity to work with a closed, more homogeneous group and put into practice the pillars of health, considering prevention and the integral view of the individual and bringing together various health specialties for comprehensive care.
Maíra Freitas, the Center’s supervisor, was happy to help young refugees and sees promising developments for the partnership:
– It helps in the physical practices and encourages them after all the difficulties they have gone through. In the future we can engage our students in these screenings and assessments to contribute to learning as well.
For Juan Rodriguez, a Venezuelan refugee hired by the Black Pearls last December to strengthen the U-20 team, a visit to the UVA Health Center paid off:
– The space is very nice, beautiful and quiet. I think it is cool for us to get to know our bodies and know what we can improve to achieve good results in the championships.
Juan started in the junior category of Carabobo FC and has already played for Venezuela’s under-15 national team. Since arriving in Brazil a little over a year ago, he had been training at Flamengo Park while looking for an opportunity in a club. Now playing with the Black Pearls, he is already integrated with fellow Haitians and Brazilians and optimistic for his first competition in Brazil:
– The expectation is to finish the year as champions of the tournments we will play. I want to keep improving, win a title and join the professional team.
Photos: Diego Padilha