Wagrain-Kleinarl, Austria, March 22, 2019 – Gilberto Amauri Godoy Filho, better known as Giba, will be the most recognizable face on the courts of the first two events on the inaugural FIVB Snow Volleyball World Tour. The legendary 42-year-old Brazilian, one of the most decorated players in the history of indoor volleyball, is coming back from his retirement as a professional athlete to give the new winter sport another try, after playing in the exhibition game at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics.
Giba is part of the Brazilian snow volleyball team to play on the spectacular Alpine peaks of Austria and Italy, alongside 45-year-old beach volleyballer Marcio Henrique Barroso Araujo, 2008 Olympic silver medallist and 2005 world champion, and a couple of young beach volleyball hopefuls - Gabriel Heilborn Gouveia and Pedro Henrique Resende Santos, and, as he told fivb.com, he is really looking forward to an incredible experience.
Giba, among other stars of volleyball and beach volleyball at Snow Volleyball Night in PyeongChang
It’s been five years since you retired as a professional volleyball player. What made you return to the court at probably the least expected place – a snow volleyball tournament?
Giba: I played the exhibition match in PyeongChang and there I saw how amazing snow volleyball is. It was also good to see volleyball played alongside winter sports and how much the people attending the event liked it. They were saying, ‘Wow! Playing volleyball on the snow - how is it possible? Are you feeling your hands?’ It was a really incredible experience, similar in some ways to beach volleyball. I played beach volleyball before playing volleyball – the opposite way round to a lot of other players. To see snow volleyball grow more and more so quickly and at a good level is incredible and for me it is important to help this sport develop.
After playing that exhibition game at the Winter Olympics, this will be your first official tournament in the discipline, starting at the highest possible level – the World Tour? How are you preparing for your appearance in Austria and Italy?
Giba: I have been training for about two months now, working on fitness, running. I have also been training on the beach in Brazil to get back into the game. The most important thing at my age is not to pick up any injuries. So I keep fit, I go to the gym. I never had any injuries during my career and I would like to continue this way. Mentally, I am also looking forward to playing the first game. This is great! I have played my entire life and it’s good to be back.
As a 42-year-old Brazilian, do you think you can cope with the challenges of top-level snow volleyball in the cold high-altitudes of the Alps?
Giba: Yes, I think that after South Korea it won’t be so difficult. I also played in La Paz, Bolivia during my volleyball career, at the South American Champions Cup in 1996. You can imagine – just getting coffee at breakfast makes you breathless. Everything about life is training – taking things day by day.
You’ve got Marcio Araujo, an Olympic silver medallist in beach volleyball, on your squad. Could this be the secret to snow volleyball – mixing the best of indoor and beach?
Giba: Yes, for sure. I think snow volleyball is a bit of mix. 3v3 is close to beach volleyball. The hard surface in snow volleyball is closer to indoor when it comes to jumping and moving on the court. My Brazilian teammates also need to prepare for the slippery conditions of snow volleyball.
Lloy Ball, another former indoor star in his 40s, also gave snow volleyball a try recently at the European Tour stop in Moscow. Do you see this as a trend you are starting?
Giba: No, I don’t think so. But I know Lloy Ball well and I know he is very active. I also follow him on social media. He is one of the biggest champions and won championships in all the countries he played in at a club level - Italy, Russia, Greece... I also have memories of losing to him in 2008 at the Olympics, but he is a close friend. And it’s great he is involved in snow volleyball too.
Why is three-a-side snow volleyball a good idea?
Giba: Yes, I think it’s a great idea, because it makes it different from beach volleyball and volleyball. Three-a-side makes it a new sport, with its own characteristics including different tactics and varying the number of players at the block. You need to understand and adapt to how the other team is playing too. But having 3v3 is good and should help us cover the full court.
How do you see the future of this new sport?
Giba: I hope it will be part of the Winter Olympics one day. It is an amazing sport. I will be playing with the sons of Carlao and Ricardo, who are 21 and 22 years old, and it would be great if they could win a medal for Brazil in snow volleyball one day. There is a great atmosphere around snow volleyball – like beach volleyball. It’s a great party and would work really well with the Winter Olympics.