GWANGJU – Clad in green and yellow, Brazil are a vocal nation and proud to wear their colours on-field. However, tennis player Thiago Pinheiro showed his support away from the court and racquet by cheering on his volleyball teammates at the Yeomju stadium.
As the Universiade encapsulates sporting spirit and developing student leaders, Pinheiro says the opportunity of representing your own country cannot be understated.
“This is a great experience and being here to play for Brazil; since I’m here and I have free time, why not support my fellow Brazilians. I think everyone should do it rather than just stay in the Athletes’ Village; we all need each other since we’re in another part of the world.”
Now attending the University of South Carolina, Pinheiro is thoroughly enjoying the time being able to participate in sports in the United States. With such a recognition of university sports in America, he says the conditions in Gwangju are something he is accustomed to.
“They bring a lot of fans, and it is a very similar experience to that here as far as the atmosphere and spectators. It’s good because you’ve already been there, done that, and this is just another tournament.”
Playing previous tournaments has allowed Pinheiro to settle in quickly, but he says it’s the fans that make the Universiade a whole.
“The best part is the fans, they’ve been very supportive, going to the matches and respecting the game.”
FISU President Claude-Louis Gallien’s address at the Opening Ceremony emphasised that the Universiade wanted to help create better leaders in students, and sport gives an ideal channel to build such a platform, Pinheiro states.
“I think they’re already being leaders, you have the ability to lead or be lead. That’s a great opportunity for anyone to start leading through something, and sports teams are a great way for doing it in the future. Hopefully we can look back on leaders and say ‘they were there at Gwangju in 2015’.”
Davis Harrigan (AUS), FISU Young Reporter