Rejane Sinhori (BRA), Fistball player, was one of those chosen as Athlete of the Day during The World Games 2022 in Birmingham, Alabama. Despite her long career, this was the first time she had played at The World Games: until 2022, only Men’s Fistball was in the Games programme. For Sinhori, the Games were a long-held dream that came true. Now she is Looking Back to Birmingham!
Rejane Sinhori started playing Fistball in 2000: “I started playing in a club called Rio Branco in the city of Curitiba. I began playing during summer vacations at the invitation of some friends who had started training; I accepted the invitation, and now 23 years have passed by.”
Before playing Fistball, Sinhori trained for Handball at school. “But I found I had more affinity with Fistball; although at the beginning I was not a very coordinated player, the group of people who trained with me motivated me to continue. In quite a short time my team became one of the best in Brazil! This motivated me to want to challenge myself the whole time, and be more determined to win,” she says, and continues: “Something that delights me in Fistball is the opportunity to see the world and make friends everywhere. Our sport gives us great friendships – we often say that Fistball is one big family.”
A distant dream – until 2022
Until 2022, only Men’s Fistball was played at The World Games. “Playing at TWG was a very distant dream for me. I had the opportunity to watch TWG live in 2005, and I could imagine what it would be like to participate in this great event,” Sinhori says. “When women's Fistball was added to the competition programme, it was incredible news for me. My experience of participating in the competition was one of the most wonderful moments I've ever had as an athlete, it was really exciting.”
For Sinhori, The World Games was worth waiting for. “The most incredible moment for me was when I entered the stadium at the opening of The World Games 2022, together with my friends from Fistball and other delegations. I waited so much for that moment; my feeling was that everything made sense for me at that moment.”
Rejane Sinhori was also able to watch some other sports during her stay, even though the days were busy with training and matches. “I watched Karate, an Orienteering race and Flag Football, but I wish I could have also watched Beach Handball and Sumo. If I had had to compete in one of the sports, it would have definitely been Beach Handball!”
After the Games – back to a normal routine
After The World Games, Rejane Sinhori has ended her career in the national team. At least for now! “After TWG I returned to my normal routine. I went back to my job – I am a lawyer and I have an office in the city of Curitiba. I decided to get more involved with the organisational part of Fistball, where I have now taken on some responsibilities with the International Fistball Association and the Pan American Association. And I'm currently in a new project for the formation of another Fistball team called Morgenau. The idea of the project is to take the sport to public schools and help athletes to compete at high performance levels.”
Rejane Sinhori received a lot of questions on social media:
What was it like coming from the Brazilian winter to the heat of Birmingham?
”It was extremely exhausting! I live in the south of Brazil in the coldest capital of my country. We arrived at The World Games to a temperature equivalent to 45ºC; I can say that my team felt this difference in temperature a lot.”
Which was the game that made you the most nervous to play at The World Games?
I don't think I was nervous, but I was certainly keyed up: it was the semi-final against Switzerland, I knew it was that game that would take us to the grand final of The World Games – or not.
Which was the best Fistball game at The World Games for your team?
”For me, my team’s best game was against the German team in the qualifying round.”
Which of your achievements have most impressed you?
“My team was seven times club world champions – that was something incredible. Another special moment was managing to win the World Championship in 2010. Brazil had won a world gold medal for the first time. Also, I can't stop talking about receiving a [Bronze] medal from The World Games, that was really exciting!!”
What do you believe can change in women's Fistball, after your first participation in TWG?
”I believe that with the first participation of women in The World Games and with the quality of the game that all teams presented on the field, from now on many doors will open for our category. This will include other girls and women who become interested in starting to train and compete in different parts of the world. This is a personal dream of mine!”
At what age did you start playing?
”I started playing Fistball when I was 14.”
How do you manage to play Fistball more professionally, and also work?
”I have always managed to reconcile work and playing Fistball very well, especially when I was younger. For me I have always put Fistball and work as priorities and I have managed to organise myself very well. I have never had problems with that.
For example, if I knew I had a test at the university on the same day as some training, I would study for this test two weeks beforehand. At my work, if I had a trip to do with Fistball I would leave everything organized before travelling, and sometimes when I got back I would spend more time at work to make up for the day I had lost. And so I have always managed to stay active in sport.”
”The keywords are PRIORITIES and ORGANISATION!”
What was the biggest challenge for you to get to The World Games?
“The biggest difficulty to reach TWG was the financial aspect. Athletes from Brazil who play Fistball have to pay all their expenses, and sometimes this is very costly for us; we have to work miracles to be able to compete.”
How do you feel, knowing you’re a model athlete for many generations in Fistball?
”I have never set myself up as an example for other athletes, but I am very happy when I know that there are people who are inspired and like the way I present myself as a player.
But also, it brings me the commitment that as a "model" player I try to contribute in the best way in the sport as an athlete, and as a leader in the institutions that organise the sport. This is so that all athletes understand that today you are a great player, but tomorrow you can help your sport to be better in some way, always setting an example.”
Comment on a game that meant a lot to you. And what are your plans for the future?
“One of the games that made a big impression on me was a South American Club Championship. At the time I was playing for Clube Duque de Caxias. I don't remember the date or the year, but it was in Rosario, Argentina.
We participated in that competition without a complete team, and I had only gone to accompany my group, as I had had throat surgery and I had a broken hand.
We had gone with 5 girls and I went just to help the group without being able to play. But in the final game my team's striker hurt her foot, and I had to play as a striker (a position I've never played in my life), and we managed to win that championship and so qualified for the World Championship the following year. That day was unbelievable; all those who were there remember it well!
My plans for the future are to continue playing Fistball together with my current team Morgenau to help with this new project, as the team is new, and to help the sport by participating in national and international bodies for the growth of the sport. I always want to be close to Fistball!”
Did you have serious injuries when playing Fistball?
“Yes, I fractured my left hand, which triggered a problem in my wrist where I needed medical attention for years in order to continue playing. And of course, several other injuries; in TWG I had an injury to an achilles tendon. I had to come back from the competition, undergo major treatment and stay still without any physical activity for months, but now I'm better!”
When was your key moment where you became one of the best in the world?
”First of all, thank you very much for placing me among the best in the world, but perhaps the ‘turn of the key’ was when I woke up to Fistball in 2005 when I spent a season in Germany, playing for the Koblenz team. At that point in time I began to understand what the Fistball world really was, and the doors opened.
But of course I have always played Fistball with a lot of determination. I dedicated myself to it; I believe that the group of people who were involved with me during all these years provided a lot for me to help achieve a great performance. We slept, ate and drank Fistball; everything was around the sport. When we dedicate ourselves a lot to something, believe and put our heart into it, everything happens naturally.”
What was the TWG moment that left the biggest impression on you?
”It was definitely the end of my Fistball career after 23 years with you (the person asking the question)! We started and ended our cycle together. Thanks!”
Do you intend to continue playing for the Brazilian national team?
”In the TWG competition I ended my career with the national team. Today it is more difficult for me to reconcile the national team with the life I currently have. But here in my country I have the example of Pelé, who tried to stop playing with the national team 7 times!”
What was your biggest challenge in the preparations for The World Games?
”My biggest challenge in preparing for TWG was reconciling work and training with the Brazilian national team. Normally for us to be able to train with the national team we need to travel 12 hours to another city (Curitiba - Porto Alegre). Sometimes it becomes tiring.”
Did you enjoy Birmingham?
”I liked Birmingham a lot! The city is very beautiful and the reception of the people who live in the city towards the athletes was very nice. I would certainly come back to visit the city again.”
The World Games is a multi-sport event staged every four years by the International World Games Association, organised with the support of the International Olympic Committee. The World Games 2022 was held in Birmingham, Alabama, USA, 7-17 July 2022. 3,600 athletes from 34 sports and 100 countries took part in the Games. The 12th edition of The World Games will be held in Chengdu, CHN in 2025.