A new challenge for Vadão

He has already coached a young Rivaldo and, almost ten years later, helped Kaka adapt to professional football. Now, another decade on, experienced coach Oswaldo Alvarez (better known as Vadão), is preparing for a completely different challenge as coach of the Brazilian women’s national team.

“It’s one of the greatest challenges of my career. I have always followed women’s football, but I never imagined I’d be in charge of the national team. Even though it’s something new for me, it’s without doubt one of the most gratifying [experiences],” said the coach, who will now focus on September’s Copa America in Ecuador.

Vadão has had the privilege of witnessing the emergence of two elite footballers who went on to win FIFA World Player awards: Rivaldo (1999) and Kaka (2007). Now, he has the opportunity to coach another star in Brazil forward Marta. The difference this time, however, is that Marta is in her prime, while Rivaldo and Kaka were just setting out on the road to superstardom.

Long and glowing resume
Vadão worked with Rivaldo at Mogi Mirim, a small club based inland in the Sao Paulo area which became one of the state’s best sides in the '90s thanks to a side nicknamed the “Carrossel Caipira”, alluding to the great Netherlands squad of the 1970s. It was a team full of versatile athletes who moved freely across the pitch and in which Rivaldo found fame in Brazilian football, even scoring a goal from the halfway line.

Vadão also earned recognition at Mogi Morim and went on to coach clubs like Guarani, Atletico Paranaense, Bahia, Corinthians and Sao Paulo, where he worked with a teenage Kaka in the playmaker’s first season as a professional. This year, he was in charge at Ponte Preta when he received the call to take over the Brazilian women’s team.

Midfielder Jadson (a FIFA Confederations Cup winner in 2013), the versatile Julio Baptista (formerly of Cruzeiro, Arsenal, Real Madrid and Sevilla and a Confederations Cup winner in 2009) and defender Edu Dracena (a 2011 Copa Libertadores winner with Santos) were also propelled to fame by the experienced coach.

In his first duty as head of the women’s team, the coach attended the decisive Copa do Brasil match between Ferroviaria and Sao Jose at the Estadio Joe Sanchez in Sao Jose dos Campos. The home side won 1-0 to force a penalty shoot-out, but the visitors stood firm to claim victory with a 5-4 scoreline.

“I was seriously impressed with the level of the two teams. It’s great to be attending these games and seeing everything up close. I’m sure that will help me a lot in my work,” he said.

Vadão then travelled with the U-20 national squad to Pinheiral, Rio de Janeiro, to train the team in their preparations for the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Canada 2014.