How a Brazilian futsal player overcame two torn ACLs to star for the Bisons

The weather in Fortaleza, Brazil is very predictable.Located on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, it rains, yes, but the temperature almost never dips below 22 C and rarely climbs above 30 C.But for Bruna Mavignier, that wasn’t enough to keep her around.Story continues below

“Living abroad was always a dream for me, but didn’t have the time to go until university. This scholarship came up called Science Without Borders. I could decide Canada, U.S., England, but I decided Canada because it’s known to be a nice place to live — it’s quiet, it’s peaceful, people are very welcoming to international students.”Mavignier is in her fifth year attending the University of Manitoba, leading the Bisons women’s soccer team in scoring heading into the final weekend of the regular season.But she didn’t play organized soccer growing up. In Brazil, schools don’t have a lot of greenspaces, so kids often play indoor soccer, aka futsal.“It’s smaller, smaller ball, 5-on-5 instead of 11-on-11,” Mavignier explained. “It’s a faster game. You have unlimited subs, you play four minutes and then you sub. It’s similar to hockey, you sub all the time. It’s short sprints, speed and agility. Shots are small distance, quick toe punts.”READ MORE: From Nigeria to Winnipeg: One Bison’s unlikely journey to the gridironSo despite not being used to playing soccer on a huge field, she took the leap when she arrived in Canada, convincing Bisons coach Vanessa Martinez Lagunas to give her a shot.“I had no idea how I would do in soccer, but I knew I was OK with futsal,” Mavignier recalled.“I told her I have a dream to play professional soccer, to keep playing the sport I love, and that I would love to have a chance to see how I do. I guess it worked out.”Mavignier made an immediate impact in her rookie season in 2014, tallying eight goals in 12 games. 2015 was even better, with six goals in six games, but her body was not co-operating, battling hip and groin pain.“It happened mostly because of the high volume of training and my body is not adapted to soccer. It’s turf, it’s different running. I was playing through this but then I tore my ACL. It was probably the hardest moment for me because I was having an amazing season.”