Lausanne, Switzerland, April 27, 2015 - It’s a star-studded Rexona-AdeS team that will be representing Rio de Janeiro and Brazil at the 2015 FIVB Volleyball Women’s Club World Championship next week. But among those stars, one shines just that little bit brighter. At 45, Helia Rogerio de Souza Pinto, better known as Fofao, is wrapping up her dazzling career at the tournament in Zurich, Switzerland.
She created a stir in Rio de Janeiro yesterday when she was named MVP of the Brazilian Superleague after leading her team to a record 10th title - the last three in a row. It’s an award rarely reserved for setters - but then Fofao is no ordinary playmaker. Her domestic career spans three decades and her first international medal came 21 years ago - a gold at the 1994 FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix. In the meantime, she has played at five Olympic Games, debuting at Barcelona 1992, winning bronze medals in Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000, and finally making it to gold at Beijing 2008.
Fofao (right) comforts Fabianade Oliveira as Brazil receive their gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games
Fofao was joined yesterday on the podium of the 2014-15 Superleague Individual Award winners by two of her Rexona-AdeS teammates. Outside hitter Gabi [Gabriela Guimaraes] was named Best Attacker (with 360 kills in 960 attempts and an efficiency rate of 25.94%) and middle blocker Carol [Ana Carolina da Silva] was Best Blocker of the season (with 95 stuffs in 322 attempts for an efficiency of 29.5%). In addition, Gabi was also top scorer of the Superleague with 414 points. Another Rexona-AdeS outside hitter, Natalia [Natalia Pereira] was second-best attacker (with 253/661 for 25.26%).
After playing with several clubs in Brazil, Fofao crossed the Atlantic in 2004 to further her career in Europe. On the Old Continent, the Brazilian setter led Italy’s Sirio Perugia to gold medals in the CEV Champions League and twice in the CEV Challenge Cup, before moving to Spain’s Murcia and then to Fenerbahce Istanbul to lead the Turkish club to a CEV Champions League bronze. She returned to Brazil in 2012 to end her playing career in Rio.
At a Club World Championship level, Fofao has led two teams to the podium. She won gold with Fenerbahce in 2010 in Doha and silver with her current club of Rio de Janeiro in 2013 in Zurich. And now she returns again to Zurich to end her international career. How fitting would it be for the Rexona-AdeS Rio de Janeiro captain to do that and win yet another gold?
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