Sheilla enjoys sabbatical, return remains uncertain


Sheilla in action for Brazil at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games

Lausanne, Switzerland, February 26, 2018 - Although she has not officially called time on her remarkable career, Sheilla Castro is currently taking a self-imposed sabbatical.

The catalyst for that decision was a disappointing quarterfinal defeat to China at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, in her native Brazil, after which she announced that she would no longer be available for selection with the national team. Sheilla then saw out her contract at Vakifbank Istanbul and has not played since.

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One of the best opposites of her generation, she recently spoke about her future in an interview with “The truth is I haven’t thought about my career yet. I haven’t decided about my future. I had offers, but I don’t know if I will return to volleyball.”

Although she turns 35 this year, Sheilla could certainly still help younger players a lot with her wealth of experience. She still regularly posts photos of herself during fitness sessions or playing beach volleyball. On the other hand, however, Sheilla is in a happy relationship and enjoying her new life with friends and family, and without the stress of top-level sport.

In the world of volleyball, she established herself as one of the biggest stars of the game after picking up Olympic gold in 2008 and 2012 with the Brazilian team. “Point machine” Sheilla was instrumental in the success. One example of the importance of her role came in the legendary quarterfinal match at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, when Brazil saved six match points against Russia before Sheilla won the tie-break virtually on her own with her decisive attacks.

And there are many similar moments for her to recall. Sheilla won Olympic gold with the Selecao in 2008 and 2012, claimed seven titles in the FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix and six at the South American Championships, and triumphed on two occasions in the FIVB Volleyball Women's World Grand Champions Cup. She was an FIVB Volleyball Women's Club world champion back in 2012. The Brazilian was also the top scorer at the tournament, and was also named MVP. At the FIVB Women’s World Championships she has also won two silver medals and a bronze.

Sheilla was named Brazil’s best female athlete of 2012 on the back of the country's victory at the Olympic Games in London. Coach Ze Roberto praised Sheilla at the event, saying: “Sheilla deserves this award. She was instrumental in us winning Olympic gold in London as she saved five of six match points against Russia in the quarterfinals. Volleyball is a team sport but has moments of individualism.”

And Sheilla is undoubtedly one of the biggest personalities in world volleyball, even if she always talks down her role. “I want to share such awards with all the players who were with me on the court, because volleyball is a team sport,” she said. The fact that she dedicated the award in 2012 to her grandmother typifies her character – and shows just how important her grandmother was to the start of her amazing career.

“I was raised by my grandmother Therese, since I was three years old. My mother worked and grandmother did not like to leave me with the babysitter. Me and my younger brother Victor ended up moving in with her,” she once explained. She subsequently developed a ritual of phoning her grandmother before every match.

Her family nudged her in the direction of volleyball in school. “I started playing when I was 12. I was really tall and I really liked it.” Her extraordinary talent soon caught the eye. She was selected for her state Minas Gerais, and then the Brazilian youth team: “Becoming a professional player was something that came naturally...”

As a young woman, Sheilla moved to Italy, where she spent four years playing for Scavolini Pesaro between 2004 and 2008. Even today, long after her return from Italy, she still cooks and enjoys eating Italian cuisine. But what made her such a good volleyball player?

“Volleyball is my life. I am a happy player and love key moments,” she said. Then there is the 1.85m-tall Brazilian’s extraordinary attacking prowess, variability, and finesse.

Despite her success, Sheilla has always remained a modest person. Volleyball opened the door to an incredible career. “I believe that sport is an excellent educational and social tool.” We can only wait and see whether she returns to volleyball again.


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