Mention Brazil and you’ll often conjure images of beach volleyballers on Ipanema, with green mountain slopes in the background and golden sand running for miles. Aside from the all-night-long beach parties, beach volleyball is perhaps the most popular representation of Brazil. The country has always been associated with beach volleyball, not just because of their obession with the sport, but largely because many of the best volleyball players in the world are from Brazil.

Introducing Brazil to the World

Jacqueline (affectionately known as Jackie) Silva is one of them. Lauded as the best beach volleyball player in Brazil’s history, Jackie won the gold medal in the inaugural women’s beach volleyball tournament at the 1996 Summer Olympics, as well as first place in the FIVB (International Volleyball Federation) Tour Championship for two years running, along with partner Sandra Pires. Originally from Rio de Janeiro, Jackie started out in Brazil’s women’s national volleyball team at the tender age of 14 before moving on to playing beach volleyball in the United States. She hasn’t looked back since and although now she’s retired, she still plays an integral role in Brazil’s beach volleyball scene.

Brazil’s Obsession with Beach Volleyball

While beach volleyball may have originated in Southern California, Brazil definitely played a big part in introducing the sport to the world. It’s easy to see why Brazil is the best country for the sport: Blessed with hundreds of miles of sandy coastline and a climate that’s perfect for beachbumming, Brazil provides  natural conditions for playing the sport. Almost everyone in Brazil plays beach volleyball just for the fun of it.

Head out to famous beaches in Brazil, like Copacabana, Ipanema and Jericoacoara, and you’ll see there’s always a game going on. If you’re interested in picking up the sport, you can even sign up for beach volleyball lessons. Whatever the case, if you’re ever in Brazil, you can’t leave till you’ve played a game of beach volleyball!

Photo | Phillie Casablanca