Brazilian sophomore striker brings 'happy' style of play to Wisconsin-Superior
There's no better way for a team trying to adopt the Brazilian way of playing soccer than to have a Brazilian show them. That's the situation atWisconsin-Superior, where Brazilian Gubio Henrique is integrating his teammates with the idea of playi...
There's no better way for a team trying to adopt the Brazilian way of playing soccer than to have a Brazilian show them.
That's the situation atWisconsin-Superior, where Brazilian Gubio Henrique is integrating his teammates with the idea of playing "happy soccer."
"We play 'happy soccer,' " said Gubio, who, like most Brazilians, goes by one name in his home country. "It's a way to play that's not just technical. Soccer is individual, nice dribbling, make beautiful plays, not just technical plays."
The change in philosophy toward more creativity and individual play was greeted warmly by UWS coach Chris Perez, a fan of the South American approach, and it's apparently catching on with Gubio's teammates. The Yellowjackets are 4-6 after posting a school-best 13-3-2 record a year ago when Gubio scored a school-record 17 goals as a freshman. The 6-foot-3striker has a team-high four goals this season.
"He's very good in the [penalty] box; he's got a great header," Perez said.
Gubio grew up inFlorianopolis, Brazil, the capital of Santa Catarina, an island with 42 beaches about 10 hours south of Sao Paolo connected to the mainland by a bridge. People live and breathe soccer in Brazil, the home to five World Cup championships, and Gubio was no different.
"I play soccer since I could walk," the 23-year-old said. "We played soccer in the streets, barefoot. Just hanging out with your friends in your flip-flops and you say, 'Let's play soccer.' "
Gubio's wardrobe hasn't changed much despite the move north. He wore shorts and flip-flops during an interview in Superior last week as temperatures began their annual downward spiral.
"It's freezing cold here," he said. "I'll be honest, I don't enjoy winter. I don't mindthe snow, but when it's15-, 20-below, it's too much. The coldest day in Brazil is 40.
"Winters here are too long. The hardest thing to get used to is when it starts to get dark at 4."
Gubio ended up in Wisconsin in the summer of 2005, working as a lifeguard at Treasure Island resort in the Wisconsin Dells. He later received an internship at the resort and chose to attend UWS in the fall of 2006. Working toward a degree in transportation and logistics, Gubio said he hopes to work for a globalwide company that does business in Brazil.
Having played club soccer in Brazil, naturally Gubio went out for the UWS team. He's happy to have wound up in Superior, where he is part of an international flavor that includes players from Japan, Nigeria and Ethiopia.
"School is the most important focus," said Gubio, a junior academically and a sophomore athletically. "People who play here play because they like the sport and for the fun of it. There's not the pressure. Everybody is here for school and they play because they like it. That's my idea of soccer."
Teammates say they can tell Gubio's enjoying himself on the field.
"He likes to smile. When he plays, he's always having fun," said midfielder Blake Conboy, a 2005 Duluth Denfeld graduate, who is a convert to the Brazilian style.
But most college teams do not adhere to a style that relies on a possession game with several short passes and extensive dribbling. Opponents often are more physical, a style not common in Brazil.
"College soccer is a hard, physical game," Perez said. "Gubio is getting used to that."
And now Gubio's teammates are getting used to his version of "happy soccer."
RICK WEEGMAN covers high school sports. He can be reached weeknights at (218) 723-5302 or by e-mail at email@example.com