On the way to the Olympics

Canadian beach volleyball duo practices in the Brazilian sands of Rio de Janeiro

By Estela Cangerana and Sergio Siscaro

Good relations between Brazil and Canada go far beyond foreign trade and education. In the field of sports, the rapprochement is also bearing positive fruit, in an often-unknown perspective. Since October 2020, for example, the duo of Canadian athletes Brandie Wilkerson and Heather Bansley has been training in Rio de Janeiro, under the command of award-winning Brazilian coach Ricardo de Freitas, in their quest for a medal in the beach volleyball competition at the Tokyo (Japan) Olympics, in the middle of this year. The opportunities open in this field, however, go much further.

The multiple sports modalities and skills of one country and another allow such a promising exchange, which not only opens space for an increase in medals, but can also support the development of sports, the promotion of quality of life, and even stimulate the strengthening of brands that are associated with this cause.

Wilkerson and Bansley are two of the top stars of Volleyball Canada (the Canadian volleyball confederation), but their training project for the Olympics is still open for sponsorship from companies interested in associating their name with the successful duo. The athletes have stood out on the world beach circuit in recent years. In 2018, they were considered the world’s top duo, with gold medals in championships held in Warsaw (Poland), Las Vegas (USA), and Chetumal (Mexico).

On an individual basis, they have also made their mark: while Wilkerson was named the best blocker by the International Beach Volleyball Federation in 2018, Bansley was voted the best defender in 2015, 2016 and 2018. Both are preparing at Centro de Treinamento do Leblon (Leblon Training Center) in Rio de Janeiro.

Their relationship with Brazil is not by chance, and their project in the country only intensifies their intention of obtaining the best results in Tokyo. Brazil is admittedly one of the countries with the longest tradition in beach volleyball, and one of the great powers of the world sport in the category. The coach of the Canadian duo, Ricardo de Freitas, is a Brazilian reference, famous for his many titles, such as the Brazilian Championship (in 2013, 2014, and 2019), the South American (2012), the World Circuit (2015), and the World Championship (2015), in addition to the silver medal at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro (2016), coaching the duo formed by Ágatha Bednarczuk and Bárbara Seixas.

Opportunities in both ways

But if Brazil can be seen as the safe harbor for the improvement of Canadian beach volleyball athletes, Canada can also be an excellent development opportunity for Brazilian athletes of other sports, including those in a more initial stage and who wish to have the country as a base for the evolution of their career.

There is no lack of space for this, and there are already established conditions that facilitate the athletes’ trip, such as the Canadian government’s program that allows a visa with a special modality for these professionals, as explained by the lawyer Marc-André Séguin, co-founder and partner of the specialized immigration office Exeo Attorneys.

He refers to the Canadian Federal Self-Employed Program for Artists and Athletes, a Canadian government program that enables self-employed athletes and artists to obtain permanent residency in Canada. With this, it is possible to be established and obtain almost all the advantages of a Canadian citizen, including access to the rights and benefits enjoyed by the population, and the possibility of entering the country’s education system.

To be eligible, those interested must have at least two years of experience as a self-employed athlete, or two years of participation in world-class competitions, or a combination of these two possibilities (one year of each or more), among other necessary requirements such as language, age, and education.

According to the expert, this type of visa is still little explored, often because potential candidates are unaware of it. The possibilities that it allows, however, can be a first step towards the development of future Olympic athletes.

Learn More:

Information about sponsorship possibilities for Canadian beach volleyball athletes, in Brazil: [email protected]

Information on immigration visa possibilities for athletes: Exeo Attorneys.