Brazil has produced a lot of great soccer players throughout the years. Pele, who some view as the greatest soccer player of all time, is the most notable figure to come from the biggest country in South America, but more recently they have produced the great Ronaldo and Ronaldinho, both figures in their World Cup victory in 2002.
Though the Bearkats don’t have a player quite at the level of either Ronaldo or Ronaldinho on their soccer team, they certainly have no slouch with Raquel Bueno.
Bueno, the Bearkats’ 22-year-old junior forward, hails from the country that has produced some of the greatest soccer players and she has made a positive effect on the team since her arrival in Huntsville three years ago. As a freshman for the 2005 season, Bueno led the Bearkats with six goals, with three of those come during the Southland Conference tournament, where she was honored with tournament MVP. She helped lead the team to the finals but fell short, losing to Northwestern State.
“After the tournament, they gave me the MVP award, but I was upset because we had lost. I wasn’t sure what they were giving me,” Bueno said. “It wasn’t until later I realized how significant it was receiving the award.”
Raised in Sao Paul, Brazil, Bueno moved to America three years ago, and for her it has been somewhat of an adjustment to grow accustomed to living in America.
“Today I’m used to the differences, but the culture is very different here than in Brazil,” Bueno said. “In Brazil, you can go up to someone and talk to them and act if you had been friends all your life. Here it isn’t quite the same.”
Bueno grew up in a soccer culture and has been around the world’s most popular sport all her life. Having played since an early age, she began playing organized soccer alongside her twin-brother Augusto at the Rivellino soccer club, a boys’ league, when she was 10-years old. Looking back at that experience, Bueno said it was a good one because it gave her more confidence. She played against the boys for nearly four years, until she turned 14 when she began competing against the girls at Rivellino, where she continued to compete until she was picked up by the Sao Caetano Soccer Club in Sao Paulo at age 17. While at Sao Caetano she played alongside Luana Miessa, current teammate at Sam Houston State University, and played there for two years before beginning her career at SHSU.
Though she was pursued by the University of Missouri, Bueno says it was the interaction she had with head coach Marcia Oliveira that helped her become a Bearkat. Bueno says the fact that they both came from similar backgrounds in Brazil – their stories are similar – allowed Oliveira to help ease Bueno’s transition from Brazil to America.
Though Bueno is close to graduation, she still has a year of NCAA eligibility left. After her time at SHSU is complete, Bueno said she wants to continue her soccer career, hoping for play for a club in either the United States or Europe.
Before she finishes her career as a Bearkat, Bueno also said she wants to help get the Bearkats back to the postseason. Despite her struggles earlier in the season, she’s ready to make a late season push.
“I started slow; some injuries bothered me earlier,” Bueno said. “Now I feel like I’m playing better and ready to help the team win.”
If her recent performance on the field is any indication, Bueno is back to full strength, scoring both goals in the Kats’ 2-1 victory over Northwestern State last Friday.
After picking up their first conference win last weekend, the Bearkats (3-9, 1-4 SLC) are looking for their second conference win this weekend on the road against McNeese State (7-4-4, 3-1-1 SLC) and Lamar University (0-14, 0-5 SLC).
Though Lamar, in their first year playing in the Southland Conference has been outscored on the season 83-2, the Bearkats know they can’t overlook any of their four remaining opponents, including the woeful Lamar.
“I still believe we can make the playoffs,” Bearkat forward Yoanna Garcia said. “We just need to play as a team and take it one game at a time.”