Stéphane Vehrlé-Smith ‘Brazilian Ace’

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Who is Stéphane?

A happy 27 year old born Brazilian who grew up in Kent, England. Brought up by a loving French mother and English Father; keen on hockey and fitness. Always looking to take on new opportunities.

Can you describe yourself as a player?

Very attacking minded and love to create.

How did you end up playing in England?

I lived in England ever since I was adopted, at 6 months old.

How is hockey in Brasil at this moment?

Hockey is growing and more people are aware of it since the Rio 2016 Olympics. Hockey players and the Brazilian Hockey Confederation are working hard to get more kids and adults involved in the sport we love.

Can you explain how was for yourself and for the country the feeling to play this beautiful sport in Olympics Games?

It was a very proud moment for me to compete at the Rio 2016 Olympics. Not only was it my first Olympics but it was a home Olympics, too. This made it extra special and seeing the build up up close was something I’ll never forget. As a nation, Brazil was extremely excited to host the biggest sports competition in the world and to have the first ever Brazilian hockey team take part meant we created history.

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What is the next step for the national team of Brasil?

To continue improving so we can start winning more medals in the Pan American region. After competing against the best hockey nations in the world, it’s given us more of an idea of how top teams work tactically and under certain pressure situations. It’s really inspired the players and youth in Brazil.

What are your goals either at a club level and with your national team?

I decided about a year ago that I would take some time away from playing top club hockey, to give myself a proper rest mentally and physically. It’ll allow me to reflect properly on what I’ve achieved so far in my hockey career and what I want to push for in the future. I now live in the USA and I’m enjoying this moment coaching high school and university hockey players.

Most specials moments of your carrer?

I fortunately have many. Winning Brazil’s first ever medal in a South American Championship, winning the English Premier League regular season with Holcombe, qualifying for EHL and the Olympics, competing and scoring in my first Olympics and being named in the Elite All Star Pan American Team of the Year. But above all that, without sounding to cheesy! it’s the people I’ve met, friends which I’ve made and places around the world which I’ve seen, through playing hockey which is truly special. To have played with and against so many top players is a pleasure as well. Hockey really is so much more than just a game, It’s a vehicle which takes you places and brings people together from all walks of life.

Hockey idols?

I don’t have any but I’ve always admired the most daring, skillful and hard working players. So the list is long.

Do you have a nickname?

Steph, S.V.S – Nothing too creative I’m afraid.

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Funny moment and the national team or club?

They have to be ones which have gone on in the changing rooms. With Brazil, I remember after a training session, walking into the bathroom and seeing about 5 of our players all huddled around a very slow running tap, completely naked, competing for what ever drop of water they could catch so they could try and wash themselves. I must add that the showers weren’t working, or maybe they were and they just wanted to get close to each other! Team bonding?! The other which always made me laugh; something which happened frequently was one of the boys at Holcombe putting a heavy kettlebell in the goalie bag of our keeper and seeing his reaction when he’d pick it up, knowing straight away who was responsible. It’s the simplest of things which are always the funniest.

Stéphane Verle-Smith

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