Diana Taurasi Makes Brazilian Fan’s Dream Come True
Special thanks to Francielle Fernanda Almeida and Fábio Balassiano, who saw Francielle’s sign at the USA’s gold medal game versus Spain, tracked her down and posted her story on his blog Bala na Cesta. Francielle first saw Diana Taurasi playing basketball on television when Taurasi was still at the University of Connecticut and has been a fan ever since. Both were kind enough to allow USA Basketball to share it on usab.com.
Meeting Diana Taurasi was a dream come true in my life. I have always watched Diana play on TV and thought it would be wonderful to see her, even that far, in person. It was mainly because of the girl who inspired me to play and love basketball that I was in Carioca Arena I for the women's Olympic semifinal between USA and France on August 18. Seeing that she was very kind with the fans after the game, I tried to take a picture with her. I could not get one because the place was far from empty, and Taurasi had to go to the locker room. But I did not leave empty-handed. Literally.
Diana threw her towel to the crowd, and guess what? I got it. Wonderful! I had a towel from my idol, I was very happy and went home in peace. But you know, a fan is never satisfied. In the end of the women’s basketball final between the U.S. and Spain I really wanted to have my dream picture with her. The athlete who always inspired me to persist in this wonderful sport was so close to me, I could not let it go. That's when I decided to make a poster exactly saying what I felt and what I wanted. The message was: "Taurasi, I play basketball because of you. Please take a picture with me.”
Since the Olympic final is always followed by the medal ceremony, I was not very confident. If I could get her to read the poster and even thank her for it, I would be fine. And it happened! When Diana Taurasi was on the podium to receive her gold medal, I got her attention by swinging the poster. She read and thanked me, banging her hand on her chest. At that time, I was really excited.
But you know, I wanted the photo and would stay in my place for it. I am Brazilian and don’t give up! Then a coordinator from USA Basketball saw my poster and moved. He asked the official photographers to take pictures of my poster and asked someone to call Taurasi. The coordinator came to my side and said: "Do not worry, she's coming."
And then it happened. It happened! I saw Diana Taurasi coming in my direction, smiling. My heart almost came out of my mouth. I was not believing. She was slowly coming to find me. When she stopped in front of me she read the poster, thanked me and gave me a hug. Then we took the picture and to my surprise she told me one of the things I will never forget in my whole life, "Now hold the medal yourself.” At that time, I did not know what to think. I began to shake my body. It was beautiful, a day I will never forget.
Despite having the rare opportunity to meet Diana, I was sad at the same time. Sad because we do not have "Taurasis" in a country that was already a world championship gold medalist in this sport. After the generation of Hortencia and Paula, women's basketball in Brazil is not a good way. We have a professional league, but to be truthful, it’s still amateur. In its last edition, there only six teams.
I work as a coach in an association (JF Celtics) in Juiz de Fora (Minas Gerais) for the women's team that won the gold medal in its first participation in the State Championship. We do not have government support, not even private support.
I sincerely hope that after Brazil’s performance in the women's tournament these year, something will be done for this wonderful sport.
And my greatest hope is that we can have idols for our girls who are just starting to play the game. Girls that need to be inspired by someone. Just as I was inspired by Diana Taurasi.