Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Bisons bag Brazilian

Women's soccer team recruits international talent

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With the soccer world focused on Brazil, the University of Manitoba Bisons have also set their sights on soccer talent from the World Cup host.

Last week the Bison women's soccer team announced Brazilian recruit Bruna Mavignier de Vasconcelos will be joining the team for the upcoming 2014 season. She is the first Brazilian recruit in the program's history.

"I really like Winnipeg, even in the winter and everything, I think it's a beautiful city," Mavignier said. "Everybody here is so kind and so friendly, I'm really enjoying living here."

'I really like Winnipeg, even in the winter and everything, I think it's a beautiful city. Everybody here is so kind and so friendly, I'm really enjoying living here'

-- Bruna Mavignier de Vasconcelos

Mavignier, 21, is from Fortaleza, Brazil, and has been living in Winnipeg since last September, attending the U of M through the Science without Borders program.

She said when she found out there was a Bisons soccer team, she contacted head coach Vanessa Martinez Lagunas about playing after her program was finished.

Mavignier, a forward and midfielder, is a very experienced "futsal" player, a variant of soccer that is mainly played indoors. She said she has never played on a soccer team before but feels her futsal experience will translate well on the grass.

"It's a very fast game and, yeah, we mainly give two or three touches on the ball," said Maviginer, who spent the 2012-13 season with the Nacional Gas/UNIFOR futsal team and competed at the Under-20 Brazil Cup. "This way we can develop our skills when dribbling, because the field is small."

Brazilians are world-renowned for the skill they possess on the pitch and Mavignier is no different, with talents she said she's developed through years of playing on gym floors. She started playing futsal because there weren't many opportunities to play women's soccer in Brazil. She said the women's game is still developing.

"I have been playing futsal my whole life and, yeah, I hope I can bring all my experience playing futsal to the Bisons and I can add (more skills)," she said. "I want to help them win the season, like what everybody wants, and win the championship."

Mavignier's recruitment is a part of the program's efforts to turn the team into a national contender. She is the first international recruit in Lagunas' two years as head coach.

"She has been able to integrate very well with the team, and of course she has amazing technical ability," said Lagunas, who is originally from Mexico and has played for the Mexican national football team. "She also has very good vision of the game... she is a very smart and courageous player."

Lagunas said she has been open to recruiting players from everywhere, but has focused on players within Manitoba for the upcoming season. With the new talent added to the roster this year, the Bisons' goal is to make the playoffs.

"I want our team to learn not only from soccer in other countries, but also culture and language, and just be open to respect other cultures and mindsets," she said. "I think it's very important, also, for the players to be able to experience and talk to players from other countries."

kyle.edwards@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 5, 2014 C7

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