Portugal: Home Is Where The Heart Is For Soares

22.08.2006

By Julio Chitunda, PA Sport

Portuguese basketball fans certainly had aspirations of seeing Susana Soares shining in one of the world's top leagues given her ability to control a game and outclass opposing teams.

But the lure of a career abroad was not enough to persuade Soares herself to give up life in her home country and she never left Portugal.

"Being a basketball professional in Portugal was always a very difficult issue. I couldn't conciliate playing at a high level as well as preparing for my future career," Soares told PA Sport.

"Nowadays I'm a physical education teacher and I know I don't have to worry about what I'm going to do in future," explained Soares, who admits she has not been short of offers to try her luck against the best.

"It would be great playing abroad, I've been invited to play in Spain and also in the US."

Soares is the most recognisable name among the 16 players preparing for Portugal's EuroBasket Division B qualifying round, and she is confident she can make an impact. 

"Personally, I always want to help the team. I always give the maximum I can. We have some good young players who can make our goal real. They are always ready to listen to the more experienced players," she added.

With the clock counting down to the first game at home against Luxembourg in September, Soares believes that to make their dreams reality they will need an extra team member - namely the Portuguese fans.

"The public support is going be crucial, and we need to start this campaign with a win although we believe that there are no easy games," she said.

"The basketball supporters in Portugal give more attention to the national team games than our league games. We have had more fans at national team games than any other event related to the female game.

"We have got really good potential to reach the Division A. We predict difficult games when we play away from home, but we are good enough to overcome this adversity."

Portugal also face Bosnia-Herzegovina, Estonia and Great Britain in Group B and Soares is anticipating a bright future.

"I've already played against Great Britain and Luxembourg and our results have been fantastic. We are searching for some information to know how Bosnia-Herzegovina and Estonia perform," added Soares.

"Our squad is very united and we have a huge desire to win games. We hope to have the contributions of Ticha Penicheiro and Mery Andrade, who will add strength to us."

Penicheiro's participation in the qualifying round remains in the balance as she might be playing in the WNBA.

Portugal is often regarded more as a football country but Soares has a simple solution to the problem.

"The idea that Portugal is football country must alter. Winning international events may be the solution, and with some more publicity of the game it may change shortly," she added.

Portugal complete their EuroBasket preparations later this month in the Republic of Ireland before entertaining Luxembourg in the opening game of the campaign on September 9.


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