Bianca Silva is still making up her mind. She has thought about it but at the moment she is uncertain. She has no tattoos and the almost mandatory Olympic rings for Olympians has not yet got her own green light.
She is delighted to soon become an Olympian, something that she’ll carry forever with pride and joy… tattoo or not!
It has been a long and hard road undertaken by Silva, one of the original Unstoppables in World Rugby’s Women in Rugby campaign, falling in love with the game in the rough Paraisópolis, one of many favelas in her country, and finding in rugby a pathway to success.
“When they named the squad, I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t take it in. It was a dream,” she says, her voice still carrying the emotion of the fact that when she walks into the Olympic Village in Tokyo on Saturday, she will be an Olympian.
“It wasn’t a surprise as I had done a lot of work to be named, a long and hard preparation. Yet, until you hear your name, it out of your hands.”
“My first call was to my parents. My mother, as mothers do, knew that I would be going. It was a long road,” she repeats, after recalling how the team was named during a video presentation.
Coming from her side of town, having earlier lived in the countryside, living in one of the world’s biggest cities and a well-known favela, there was a lot of adjusting to do. Life was hard, but her parents ensured there was always food on the table for their three daughters and education was a must. As violent as favelas can be, her everyday life was not affected.
Through school she came in touch with Rugby Para Todos, one of the many charities that use the game to better the lives of children. She was 11.
It was love at the first touch of the ball and her long legs and speed helped her become noticed, even having to play in the boys U15s to ensure she would get game time.
Soon she was brought into the national set-up, and although too young for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, which she enjoyed in awe of her idols, she would become a star by the time she played in Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 in San Francisco, her try against Canada amongst the best in the tournament.
Upon returning home, she would be named Brazil Rugby's Player of the Year at only 20.
A year later Silva was in the original Unstoppables.
“I can’t compare Try And Stop Us with being an Olympian. They are different things but both are humbling and I am thankful for both,” she explains.
Her goal since Brazil finished ninth at Rio 2016 and seeing the positive effect the Games had on rugby was to make it to Tokyo.
“It was five years of hard work,” she explains. “Getting a place in the team was huge as the Games have been a huge dream. I guess I will fully comprehend what I’ve achieved once I take the field on the opening day.”
Brazil have been drawn in Pool B and will open against Rio 2016 finalists Canada in the women’s second game.
Undaunted by the opposition – they play repechage qualifiers France on Thursday, 29 July, and complete their pool action against Fiji the following day – Silva and her team have lofty goals.
“We are focused on the gold medal and if not a place in the podium,” she says.
“If we believe in the hard work done and the effort everybody has put into the programme, why not?” she asks rhetorically.
After two weeks of putting the final touches to preparation at the home of the Nagato Blue Angels, on the coast of the China Sea, As Yaras are as ready as they can be for a Games that will be like no other.
“There will be a lot of restrictions but we are representing Brazil and that is what matters,” she says. “I guess it will help us focus on the job at hand.”
Her family only learned about rugby when Silva started playing and now are huge fans. They will be in her thoughts.
“I will represent God, as there is nothing more important than my faith. I will play for my family, my friends, my boyfriend and the rugby community in Brazil.” They will all be supporting her.
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